Nothing is more terrifying than when your child can't breath! With Halloween upon us, and kids shoving candy in their mouths, I think this is the perfect time to review choking in children. It's important to note that a child is anyone between 1 year old and 8 years old.
Why do kids choke? Lot's of reasons! Little ones explore the world with their mouths. If you're a parent or child care provider, you know that there is absolutely NOTHING that a kid won't stick in their mouth (unless it's a green veggie!)! It doesn't matter if you have the cleanest house on the block, your kid will find something under the couch, on the playground or in the car that they can choke on. Kids also tend to be in a hurry to get back to whatever it is that they were doing when you tore them away to eat dinner. This means they don't chew things up as much as they should so they are swallowing large pieces of food that can get stuck in their small airways. If your kids are anything like mine were, they are in perpetual motion and have A LOT to say as they eat dinner. They are bouncing and fidgeting and talking all while eating. All of these things can lead to choking.
Are they really choking? If they are coughing or trying to talk they are not choking...yet. If they are coughing you should encourage the cough and watch them closely. If they can not cough and are unable to speak or make noise, they are choking and you MUST intervene.
What do I do!? Remain calm! Your child is taking cues from you. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT STICK YOUR FINGER IN THEIR MOUTH TRYING TO DISLODGE THE OBJECT!!! This will only push the object further into the airway. Here is what you do:
Get behind the child. If the child is smaller, you may have to kneel behind them.
Make a fist with one hand and place it, thumb side in, right above the belly button
Grab the fist with your other hand
Provide in and upward abdominal thrusts until the object is dispelled from the airway.
If you are not able to dislodge the object, the child will become unresponsive and fall to the ground.
If this happens, begin CPR immediately. If you are alone, after 2 minutes, call 911. If there are others around have them call 911 for you.
It's very important to take the child to the doctor after choking and abdominal thrusts. If you don't feel confident with this maneuver, take a CPR class that includes hands-on practice for choking. We offer this in our New & Expectant Parent classes.