If Your Toddler Is Choking

If you believe your toddler—or anyone over age 1—is choking (on food, a small object or something else), follow these instructions from the American College of Emergency Physicians:

  • First, determine whether your child can breathe, cry or cough.
  • If your child is coughing strongly, this usually means the airway is blocked only slightly or not blocked at all. Coughing may dislodge the object successfully.
  • Only begin first aid for choking if your child cannot breathe, cough or speak.
If a child (over age 1) is conscious and choking:

Call 9-1-1 or have someone else call in case emergency medical help will be needed.

Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on the child (do not use this technique on an infant under age 1):

  • Stand in back of the child and reach around his or her waist.
  • Clench your fist and place it above the child's navel and below the rib cage.
  • Grasping your fist with your other hand, pull your clenched fist sharply back and up under the rib cage 6 to 10 times quickly.
  • Continue doing this until the obstruction is relieved or emergency medical help arrives. In either case, your child should be examined by a physician as soon as possible.
If your choking toddler becomes unconscious:
  • Call 9-1-1 and start performing CPR if you know how. Losing consciousness requires immediate, emergency assistance.

Knowledge of CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and other first aid is important and valuable for all parents and caregivers.

Don’t wait for an emergency to happen. Find a CPR / first aid class in your community and take it.

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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