Choking in infants

Choking occurs when food or a small object blocks the airway. If the airway is completely blocked, oxygen can't reach the lungs, and brain damage or death can result.
This is a medical emergency. Knowing what to do can help save your baby's life.

Call 911 right away and follow the verbal instructions. 
Then begin lifesaving measures while you wait for help to arrive.
Do not attempt to drive to the emergency department yourself.
To clear your baby's airway, follow these steps.

To clear your baby's airway, follow these steps.

  • Support the baby's head and neck with one hand. Place the baby face down over your forearm. The head should be lower than the body.
  • Give your baby five hard blows on the back between the shoulder blades, using the heel of your hand.
  • Turn the baby over. Keep the head lower than the body. Support the baby's head with your hand and thigh. 
  • Using two or three fingers, give the baby five thrusts on the breastbone. 
  • Repeat this procedure until the object comes out.
How to prevent choking:

How to prevent choking:

  • Do not let your baby play with small objects that can be swallowed, such as small toys, balloons, buttons, or coins.
  • Cut your baby's food into very small pieces, especially raisins, grapes, nuts, hot dog, and hard candies, as they can easily become stuck in your baby's throat.
Reviewed by Trauma specialists at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Last updated: March 2020


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