Choking infant (under 1 year)
FIRST AID FACT SHEET
How to respond to a choking infant (under 1 year)
Choking is severe difficulty when breathing due to a mild or severe obstruction of the airway due to a foreign body. An infant’s airways are smaller and can be more prone to blockage.
What to do
- Immediately call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
- Follow DRSABCD St John Action Plan
If the infant is conscious
- Give up to five (5) sharp back blows:
+ Position infant with head and shoulders on your hand and forearm facing downwards.
+ Hold the infant’s mouth open with your fingers.
+ Give up to five (5) sharp blows between shoulders with the heel of one hand.
+ Visually check if the obstruction has been cleared after each back blow and remove any foreign material that may have loosened.
- If unsuccessful, give up to five (5) chest thrusts:
+ Place the infant on their back on a firm surface.
+ Place two (2) fingers (index and middle) over the lower half of the breastbone.
+ Give five (5) chest thrusts – which are similar to CPR compressions but sharper and delivered at a slower rate.
+ Visually check if the obstruction has been cleared after each chest thrust.
- If obstruction cleared, position the infant with the head pointing downwards on the forearm, and remove any foreign material that may have loosened carefully with your little finger.
- If the obstruction does not clear continue alternating with five (5) back blows and five (5) chest thrusts until medical aid arrives.
If the infant becomes unconscious and not breathing normally
- Commence CPR
- Call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
Signs and symptoms
- Clutching the throat
- Coughing, wheezing or gagging
- Having difficulty breathing, unable to breathe, coughing, speaking or swallowing
- Trying to cry but making strange or no sounds at all
- Making whistling or “crowing” sounds
- Face, neck, lips, ears or fingernails turning blue
- Becoming unconscious.
- Airway partially or completely blocked by food
- Airway partially or completely blocked by small objects or foreign materials
Learn more about infant and baby first aid in St John WA's Tiny Tots first aid course.