What to do if a Baby is Choking

Choking is extremely common and very frightening but in most cases, with the right help, the casualty will make a full recovery. Babies can choke on anything small enough to fit through a loo roll.

To Prevent Choking:

  • Keep small objects out of reach
  • Cut food into very small pieces
  • Discourage older children from sharing their food with babies
  • Supervise children and babies when eating

According to the St John Ambulance, 40% of parents have witnessed their own baby choke, yet over 80% of these parents had no idea what to do in such a situation. This is an alarming statistic, especially when you consider that an average of 34 children is treated in hospital for choking on food every day.

Choking is life-threatening if a baby is unable to speak or cry and struggling to breathe (read here to know more about the difference between choking and gagging).

What to do if a Baby is Choking

What to do if a Baby is Choking

1. Look in the baby’s mouth. If there is something obvious, remove it with your fingers.


Do not put your fingers down a baby’s throat or finger sweep the mouth. This can make matters worse by pushing the obstruction further down or causing swelling.


What to do if a Baby is Choking

2. Lie the baby tilting downwards on your forearm or across your legs, supporting them under the chin. Using the flat of your hand, give a firm back blow between the shoulder blades.





What to do if a Baby is Choking

3. Give up to five back blows and check between each one to see if the blockage has cleared.

If they are still choking, call the emergency services and start chest thrusts straight away.




Chest Thrusts

Lie the baby on their back, place two fingers in the centre of the chest, just below the nipple line, and give up to five chest thrusts. Do this by pushing down hard and fast, roughly 1/3 of the depth of their chest. Check to see if the blockage has cleared between each chest thrust.

If the baby is still choking, call 999/112 if you haven’t already, and continue to alternate five back blows and five chest thrusts until emergency help arrives. If at any point baby becomes unconscious, commence CPR.

Never do abdominal thrusts on a baby under a year as you could cause serious damage. Always use chest thrusts instead.

For how to help a choking child visit our Online First Aid blog.


First Aid for Life provide this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made or actions taken based on this information. The best way to be prepared for action in an emergency is to attend a practical first aid course or do one of our online courses; Online First Aid has a free choking course.

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