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First Aid: Helping a Choking Infant, Pt. 1

Choking occurs when food or another object gets stuck in the airway or throat, which prevents the person from breathing and getting air to their lungs. With older children and adults, they are often able to signal that they are choking, making it easier for someone to recognize that they need help and assist them. There are a few signs you should look out for when an infant may be choking.

If the blockage is mild, the infant will still be able to cough loudly and make sounds. In this case, you should stand by and let them cough. If at any point you are worried about their breathing, call 911 immediately.

If the blockage is severe, the infant will not be able to make a sound, will not be able to breathe, or will have a cough that has no sound. In this case, you must act quickly and try to remove the blockage by using back slaps and chest thrusts. You do this by:

1) Holding the infant face down on your forearm, while being sure to support the infant’s head and jaw with your hand.

2) Using the heel of your hand, give up to 5 back slaps in between the child’s shoulder blades.

3) If this does not work, turn the child on their back, once again being sure to support their head.

4) Give up to 5 chest thrusts by using 2 fingers to push on the chest in the same place you push during CPR.

5) Repeat these back slaps and chest thrusts until the infant can breathe, cough, or cry.

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