Choking in Infants
Choking occurs when food or a small object blocks a baby's airway. If the airway is completely blocked, oxygen can't reach the lungs, and brain damage or death can result. This is an extreme medical emergency. Knowing what to do can help save your baby's life.
To clear a baby's airway, follow these steps (call 911 for verbal instructions):
When to Go to the Emergency Room (ER)
First, call 911 or emergency services right away. Then begin lifesaving measures while you wait for help to arrive. If you're alone, first try to clear your baby's airway (see sidebar). Don't attempt to drive to the ER yourself.
What to Expect in the ER
The emergency team will begin treatment right away. A breathing tube may be passed into your baby's windpipe (trachea). This sometimes pushes the object out. If not, the breathing tube may be placed through a small incision in the windpipe. The tube helps your baby breathe on the way to the hospital. In the ER, a doctor will gently pass another thin, lighted tube (bronchoscope) into your baby's throat to locate and remove the blockage.
|Keep small objects, such as balloons, raisins, small coins, and buttons, out of an infant's reach.|
Tips to Help Prevent Choking
Cut your baby's food into very small pieces.
Avoid raisins, grapes, nuts, hot dog skin, and hard candies. These can easily become stuck in your baby's throat.
Don't let your baby play with small objects that can be swallowed, such as small toys, balloons, buttons, or coins.