The time when your baby graduates from only breast milk to other forms of food is quite crucial. Not only is this a big step in baby’s growth, it is also time for you to start being extra cautious at meal times.
It is important to ensure that all meal times are supervised by an adult, whether it is only liquids or solids. Also, as your baby starts getting more mobile, they start putting everything in their mouth. This is when the dangers of choking are most common.
Why Are Babies So Susceptible To Choking?
Choking is a common incident amongst babies that can sometimes even lead to death in certain situations. This is mainly because babies have tiny airways which get easily blocked.
Common Reasons For Baby Choking:
Babies take some time to learn the abilities to swallow and chew food. Some babies might not be able to expel out the dislodged food forcefully from an airway blockage.
Infants like to explore their environment. They put everything in their mouth and is the main cause of choking.
Food is one of the causes of choking in infants. Bigger food bites or distraction while eating can commonly lead to choking infant.
Another very common incidence when this can happen is if they slip under water in a bathtub or pool. They may choke around curtains or drawstrings.
At times, health conditions can also be the reason behind choking in infants. Babies who suffer from neuromuscular disorders, swallowing disorders, traumatic brain injury and developmental delays have increased risks of choking as compared to others.
Safety Concerns For Preventing Choking At Home:
While you will supervise baby and try avoid this as much as you can, sometimes, babies still end up choking. You must be aware about some of the simple methods to prevent your baby from choking.
Here are a few methods that will prevent choking in babies:
1. Introduce Solid Foods At Proper Time:
It is best to introduce solid foods to your baby when they develop the motor skills to swallow the food. You must wait till your baby reaches 6 months before introducing pureed and solid foods.
2. Avoid High Risk Foods:
In some families, parents feed small bites of whatever they are eating to their babies. This can be dangerous.
Infants and babies should not be given chunks of cheese or meat, hot dogs, raw vegetables, grapes, oranges, etc.
Hard foods like nuts, seeds, hard candies and popcorn should be kept away from babies.
Some other foods which must be given the slip include marshmallows, peanut butter and chewing gum.
The rule to remember is that those foods which can’t be changed into safer form for the kids to swallow should be avoided.
3. Mealtime Should Be Administered:
When your baby is getting older, allow him to sit at one place and eat.
Running or walking while eating is not good for baby as baby will not eat to his fullest need.
Also, remind him to chew his morsel properly and then swallow.
Forbade him to stuff big amounts of food into his mouth as it can lead to choking.
4. Pick Toys Carefully For Your Baby:
Always choose toys according to the age of your baby.
Keep away latex balloon from infants as it can be hazardous while it is torn or in un-inflated form.
Some small objects such as small toys, marbles, small balls and toys for older kids should be kept away from babies.
5. Keep Risky Objects Out Of Reach:
Risky objects may include household objects like button batteries, pens, coins etc. Babies can swallow them and can suffer from choking.
How To Prevent Baby From Choking?
The life-saving techniques discussed here to deal with choking in babies are termed Heimlich maneuver and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). These techniques are discussed in the following steps. While these are emergency steps, we recommend calling for medical assistance immediately and performing these while waiting or on your way to a doctor.
Follow the given steps carefully to save your baby’s life during any incident of choking:
Lay your baby facing down with head lower than his bottom body.
Gently provide support to his shoulders and head.
Now, with the heel of your hand, gently give 4 to 5 back blows between the shoulder blades.
Check if there is something he ingested in his mouth and remove that obstruction with your finger.
If the object is still inside his mouth and not coming out, then lay your baby in your arms on his back.
Using your two fingers, gently give 4 to 5 chest thrusts in the middle of the chest, pushing upwards and inwards.
Keep checking in his mouth quickly after every thrust if the object is cleared off.
If it is still there after repeating 3 cycles of chest thrusts and back blows, dial for an ambulance and contact the doctor.
Continue giving thrusts and resuscitate if required.
What To Do When Your Toddler Is Choking?
The first thing to remember is to not panic. Follow the Heimlich maneuver and CPR discussed in the given steps:
When your toddler starts choking, follow step 1 as discussed above.
Keep checking his mouth quickly after every back blow and remove any object if it is present.
If the obstruction is still present, try giving abdominal thrusts. Make a clenched fist with your hands and place it above the baby’s navel. Now, pull sharply upwards and inwards, covering your fist with the other hand. Quickly examine his mouth if the obstruction is removed.
When the airway is still not cleared of the obstruction after 3 cycles of abdominal thrusts, dial your local emergency services and call for an ambulance. Continue giving thrusts and resuscitate if required.
In the event of your baby starting to lose consciousness, you must immediately start the process of cpr for choking baby:
1. Check If Your Baby Is Responding:
Tap his soles and call his name.
If he responds, then don’t do CPR.
If he is not responding, struggling to breathe and his fingertips and lips start turning blue, then start CPR immediately.
Check if you can see the object in the mouth, sweep it out with your finger, otherwise start CPR.
2. Push His Head Back:
Hold your baby with his back on a flat and firm surface.
Gently, lift his head back pushing his forehead by pressing underneath his chin.
3. Check Breathing:
Put your ears near to his nose and mouth and listen for breathing.
Look if his chest rises and falls with breathing.
If he is unable to breathe, put your mouth over his mouth and nose, and give two breaths. Each breath should last one second.
4. 30 Chest Compressions:
Remove your baby’s clothes
With the help of your ring finger and index finger, gently press below an imaginary horizontal line between your infant’s nipples (avoid pressing down the breastbone).
With your fingers, gently give 30 compressions in around 15 seconds.
Now, press your baby’s chest straight down to about half the depth of his chest.
After giving compression on his chest, release pressure on the chest and let it come back to its normal position.
5. Repeat Breathing And Compression:
Keep on repeating the cycles of 2 breaths and 30 compressions, which equals to one CPR cycle.
Look for the obstruction in the mouth after you stop giving breath in each cycle.
If you see it, sweep out with your finger.
If the obstruction is not seen, keep giving CPR until an emergency service arrives.
It would be best if you learn Heimlich maneuver and CPR techniques when your baby reaches the first birthday. This is the age when your baby starts getting really mobile and there are increased chances of choking.
Review the above discussed steps carefully and re-read them from time to time. This will help you know what to do in case of an emergency. If you find CPR classes nearby, do enroll to learn proper techniques for chest thrust, abdominal thrusts, back blows and breathing etc.
Seeing your baby choking is quite unnerving but remember to stay calm as it will help you take care of your baby better.
Share your experiences with us.