Babies and young children are at high risk of choking. Typically, they choke on foods they can not swallow, and it becomes stuck in their throats. Sometimes, choke foods enter the air passages, which is even worse because it can compromise breathing.

Children are especially at high risk for choking accidents because they are usually fond of putting things (e.g. food, toys) to their mouth, yet they still do not have posterior teeth to grind lumps of food properly. Besides, they are still learning to chew on food. Some children also choke because they are busy doing something while eating, like they laugh, cry, play or run while chewing on something. The most common foods that have been singled out in most studies of choking in children are peanuts, hotdogs, candies, raw carrots, and grapes.

Because choking can actually cause death, which occurs mostly in homes, restaurants and other public places, it is always a good idea to learn how to remove food from the airway.

For infants less than 1 year old:
Conscious
1. Straddle the infant on your forearm supported with your thigh.
Infant should be facing down with head lower than the trunk.
2. Then, with the heel of your hand, give 4 forceful back blows
between the infant’s shoulder blades.
3. Without delay, turn the infant on his back (with the head still lower
than the trunk), and give 4 chest thrust by using your two fingers.
Chest thrust is performed by positioning your two fingers on the
infant’s chest (avoiding the tip of the sternum) and depressing the
sternum ½ to 1 inch for each thrust.
4. Repeat both back blows and chest thrust until foreign body is
expelled.

Unconscious
1. First of all, call out for help and let other people around call 911 or
an ambulance for help.
2. Position infant on his back with arms on the sides, lift the jaw and
Open the mouth, and give rescue breathing. Any foreign body seen
in the mouth should be removed.
3. Give 4 back blows and 4 chest thrust until foreign body
is removed.
4. Repeat the sequence until successful or professional rescue team
arrives.

For children over 1 year old
Conscious
1. If the child is breathing normally and able to cough, ask him to
cough and remove any food that comes out.
2. If coughing is unsuccessful, perform subdiaphragmatic abdominal
thrust (also known as Heimlich maneuver). This maneuver is like an
artificial cough which will make the diaphragm forcefully contract
expelling air out of the lungs.

How to do Heimlich maneuver: 1) stand at the back of the child and place your arms around the child’s waist 2) make a fist on one hand just above the belly button of the child and grab your fist with your other hand 3) deliver 5 upward squeeze thrust into the abdomen 4) repeat until successful

Unconscious
1. First of all, call out for help and let other people around call 911
or an ambulance for help.
2. Position the child on his back with arms on the sides, lift the jaw
and open the mouth, and attempt rescue breathing. Do not perform
finger sweep to remove the foreign body (even if not visualized) in
children less than 8 years old.
3. If unsuccessful, give 6-10 subdiaphragmatic abdominal thrusts.
4. Repeat sequence until successful or until professional rescue team
arrives.

Whether you are successful or not in giving your first aid in choking victims, always have the victim examined by a physician as soon as possible.

References:

1. 1st Aid For Choking (A Refresher for People with First Aid Training). The Police
Notebook. http://www.ou.edu/oupd/choke.htm

2. First Aid Manual, 8th edition