Children are prone to put small objects in their mouth. This is how they explore the world around them. Small objects, such as beads, buttons, marbles, and toys, are of the ideal size to get stuck in a child’s airway and cause choking.
The best way to prevent such an instance is to keep those small objects far away from your child’s reach. No matter how careful we are, children are intuitive and swift in finding such objects, swallowing them and then choking on them. Here are some tips to help a choking child:
If the object is visible, try and remove it gently without poking or pushing blindly.
- If your child is coughing loudly, this means the airway isn’t completely blocked and the child is able to breathe, then allow the child to breathe.
- If the child’s coughing is silent and ineffective, seek help immediately, and keep checking if the child hasn’t gone unconscious.
- If the child is conscious but unable to cough, use back blows or abdominal thrusts as mentioned below.
How to perform back blows:
- Hold the child in a forward leaning position and gently give 3 to 5 back blows.
- If the back blows fail, then you can give abdominal thrusts. This helps to induce a cough, helping to dislodge the object stuck in the airway.
How to perform abdominal thrusts:
- From behind, place your hands around the child’s upper abdomen.
- Place your hands between the navel and ribs.
- Gently pull your fingers in an inward direction and slowly move them upwards. Repeat this tenderly, up to five times.
- Make sure to apply less pressure on the tender rib cage area to avoid injuries.
If the object is dislodged, do seek medical help to make sure there are no long-lasting injuries or residual pieces of the object in the airway.
Post Chest and Abdominal thrusts, if you are unable to dislodge the object, call for professional help, and make sure the child remains conscious.
Points to remember:
- Do not blindly poke at the object
- If the object is visible, use your finger and thumb to retrieve it
- If the object is not visible, try gentle back blows or abdominal thrusts
- Seek medical help even if you have managed to dislodge the object to make sure there are no residual pieces, and to rule out/treat injuries
- Chest thrusts work on children under one year. For children above the age of one, abdominal thrusts are ideal and more effective
- If the child is unconscious, seek medical help and stay with the child and try the techniques till help arrives.