First aid for a choking baby

New research from the British Red Cross has revealed that three out of four parents in the UK would not be able to save their baby from choking.*

But helping a baby or child who is choking is much simpler than you might think. In fact, you can learn how in just a few minutes.

To mark World First Aid Day on 9 September, we’re calling on anyone who looks after little ones to learn this life-saving skill, and encourage others to by wrapping your social media profile picture with our “I can save a life” pledge.

Keep reading and you’ll be ready to save a life in no time.

A life-saving skill

Choking is a risk for babies and young children, with small everyday items like sweets, grapes and coins some of the common hazards.

Yet around 20 per cent of parents have never learnt first aid, and don’t have the knowledge or confidence to help their baby or child in an emergency.

Let’s change that. Below are the first aid steps to help a choking baby or child, but you can also watch and learn on our dedicated website for World First Aid Day.

How to recognise if a baby or child is choking

A baby or child who is choking won’t be able to cry, cough, make any noise or breathe.

First aid for a choking baby 

  1. Give up to five back blows. Hold the baby face down along your thigh with their head lower than their bottom. Hit them firmly on their back between the shoulder blades up to five times. If back blows do not dislodge the object, move on to step two.
  2. Give up to five chest thrusts. Turn the baby over so they are facing upwards and place two fingers in the middle of their chest just below the nipples. Push sharply downwards up to five times.
  3. Call 999 if the object does not dislodge. Continue with cycles of back blows and chest thrusts, until the object dislodges, help arrives, or the baby becomes unresponsive.

(Click here to learn what to do if the baby becomes unresponsive)

First aid for a choking child 

  1. Give up to five back blows. Hit them firmly on their back between the shoulder blades. If back blows do not dislodge the object, move on to step two.
  2. Give up to five abdominal thrusts. Stand behind them and hold the child around the waist. Pull your hands inwards and upwards above their belly button.
  3. Call 999 if the object does not dislodge. Continue with cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts, until the object dislodges, help arrives or the child becomes unresponsive.

(Click here to learn what to do if the child becomes unresponsive)

World First Aid Day

Every year on World First Aid Day, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement raise public awareness of how first aid can save lives in everyday crisis situations.

This year the British Red Cross wants as many parents as possible to learn how to help a baby or child who is choking – and you can help.

Now that you know these first aid skills, help us spread the word and encourage more people to learn. After all, it could come in handy for anyone who looks after kids – from grandparents to friends.

Rowena Vithlani learnt first aid with the Red Cross after giving birth to her daughter. Little did she know that her decision to do so would help save another baby’s life.

Head to our World First Aid Day website where you can wrap your social media profile picture with our “I can save a life” pledge, so you can share your first aid skills and pass them on to others.

Lindsay Ritchie and her son

Got a first aid question?

If you’ve got a question about baby and child first aid, join us for our Facebook Live event hosted by Mumsnet on Friday 8 September at 12.30pm.

* Nationally representative online survey of 2008 UK adults, carried out in April 2017 by Critical Research.

#WorldFirstAidDay