How to stop a child from choking

Children, particularly those aged from 1 to 5, often put objects in their mouth. This is a normal part of how they explore the world.

Some small objects, such as marbles, beads and button batteries, are just the right size to get stuck in a child’s airway and cause choking.

The best way to avoid this is to make sure that small objects like these are kept out of your child’s reach.

No matter how careful you are, your child may choke on something. In most cases, you or someone else will see your child swallow the object that causes choking. 

There can be other reasons why your child starts coughing. But if your child suddenly starts coughing, isn’t ill and has a habit of putting small objects in their mouth, there’s a good chance that they’re choking.

Tips on helping a choking child

  • If you can see the object, try to remove it. Don’t poke blindly or repeatedly with your fingers. You could make things worse by pushing the object further in and making it harder to remove.
  • If your child’s coughing loudly, encourage them to carry on coughing to bring up what they’re choking on and don’t leave them.
  • If your child’s coughing isn’t effective (it’s silent or they can’t breathe in properly), shout for help immediately and decide whether they’re still conscious.
  • If your child’s still conscious, but they’re either not coughing or their coughing isn’t effective, use back blows.

MCP First Aid Training provides an educational and comprehensive training course in paediatric emergencies.

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