Would you feel ready to help your children if they suddenly started choking? It could happen to children at any moment.
As much as we don’t want to think about it, we have to recognize that this is a serious possibility. So we have to be prepared.
And we are here to help you do just that in today’s article.
How To Prevent Choking
- Understand that children have airways that are 1/3 the size of an adult. Their windpipes are approximately the size of a drinking straw. Eventually, they grow to be the size of the pinky finger.
- Examine your household to eliminate small items. Use a choke tube guide, (a small parts tester), to determine if an item is too small. This plastic device is available in most baby stores. Or you could just use a toilet paper roll.
- The following list contains popular choking hazards for children: balloons, batteries, bolts, bottle caps, coins, crayons (especially if broken), doll accessories, erasers, jewelry, nails, bolts, screws, paper clips, safety pins, small balls, small office supplies, tacks, and toys with small parts.
- Follow the recommended age for toys to ensure all parts are safe.
Food Tips To Prevent Choking
Most choking occurs from food items. The best and most proven method is to properly teach your children how to bite, chew, and swallow. Here are a few food tips to prevent choking.
- Be present while your child eats to ensure they’re chewing properly. Children should be sitting while eating and not doing anything else, such as riding in a car, watching TV, or playing.
- Be sure you give enough time for meals. Children need plenty of time to chew all food properly.
- Limit serving known choking hazards, such as: nuts, whole grapes, apples with the skin, cherries, hot dogs, sticky foods, hard vegetables, candy (specifically, hard candy), caramels, cheese (specifically, cubed cheese), chips, fruits (specifically, fruit with skins), gum, ice cubes, lollipops, marshmallows, peanut butter, popcorn, pretzels, and raisins.
- For babies: Never put food into your baby’s mouth as they do not have full control this way. Don’t sit your baby on your lap to feed; make sure your baby is sitting upright. Do not give food to your child when they are in a bouncer or walker. Never leave your baby alone with food.
- Don’t offer food in choking hazard size-avoid round items and offer soft foods. Offer items into small pieces. If you are doing Baby Led Weaning, offer soft and thin finger sized foods. Do not give items with seeds or pits.
Note: Gagging is good! When your child gags, their body is learning how to force out food, deal with the gag reflex, reject foreign objects, and gain strength. Never interrupt a gagging baby! Allow the child to fully stop gagging before you intervene for this can cause a choking hazard.
Other Signs of choking: Holding neck with both hands, difficulty breathing or noisy breathing, squeaky sounds when trying to breathe, loss of consciousness
What Should I Do if My Child is Choking?
Always call 911 whether the blockage is full or partial. Never take chances when it comes to the safety of your children. Partially logged food articles can still cause serious harm to a child and need to be properly examined by a professional. If you’re the only rescuer, perform back blows and abdominal thrusts before calling 911 or your local emergency number for help. But if another person is available, have that person call for help while you perform first aid.
If your child cannot cry, cough forcefully, or shout due to a partial blockage, the American Red Cross recommends a “five-and-five” approach to delivering first aid:
- Give five back blows. Kneel down behind your child. Place one arm across the child’s chest for support. Bend the child over at the waist so that the upper body is parallel to the ground. Deliver five separate back blows between the child’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
- Give five abdominal thrusts. Perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver).
- Alternate between 5 blows and five thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.
If the child is unable to speak or cough at all, give Heimlich Maneuver (abdominal thrusts).
- Stand behind the child placing one foot slightly in front of the other for balance.
- Make a fist with one hand positioning it slightly above the child’s navel.
- Grasp the fist with the other hand pressing hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up.
- Perform between six and ten abdominal thrusts until the blockage is dislodged.
If the child is no longer breathing, you need to SHOUT for help, place the child on the ground and follow these next steps.
- Start CPR. (If you do not know CPR, you can sign up for a class online.)
- Continue CPR until child moves or help arrives. If you are alone, after five cycles or 2 minutes of CPR, leave the child and call 911.
- Continue to push on the stomach until the object is out and the child can talk and breathe.
When a baby can’t breathe, cough, or make sounds, then:
- Put the baby facedown on your forearm, so the baby’s head is lower than his or her chest.
- Support the baby’s head in your palm, against your thigh. Don’t cover the baby’s mouth or twist his or her neck.
- Use the heel of one hand to give up to 5 back slaps between the baby’s shoulder blades. See picture C.
- If the object does not pop out, support the baby’s head and turn him or her faceup on your thigh. Keep the baby’s head lower than his or her body.
- Place 2 or 3 fingers just below the nipple line on the baby’s breastbone and give five quick chest thrusts (same position as chest compressions in CPR for a baby). See picture D.
- Keep giving five back slaps and five chest thrusts until the object comes out or the baby faints
If the baby faints, call (if you haven’t called already). Then:
- Do not do any more back slaps or chest thrusts.
- Start CPR. If you do rescue breaths, look for an object in the mouth or throat each time the airway is opened during CPR. If you see the object, take it out. But if you can’t see the object, don’t stick your finger down the baby’s throat to feel for it.
- Keep doing CPR until the baby is breathing on his or her own or until help arrives.
Don’t be Afraid, Be Proactive
When it comes to child safety, it is very easy to get overwhelmed and feel helpless. This should not be the case! Parents are children’s first line of defense when it comes to child safety.
Remember that choking is serious for not only children but adults too. Our children look to us to learn proper food and table educate. Children are very smart, and they learn quickly. Demonstrate how to properly bite, chew, and swallow. Enjoy your time together, but make sure you do not play around while eating.
Following these tips will greatly reduce the chance for choking to occur. If your child does begin to choke, DO NOT PANIC. It would be wise for you and all primary caregivers to take a first aid course. Sign up for a local course today! I hope that today’s article can give you tips on how to handle the event of your child or a child around you choking.