Basic First Aid: Knowing What to Do If Baby Chokes


Being a parent is a new and challenging experience. When you have a newborn, there are so many possibilities that cross your mind. While a baby choking on milk does not happen often, there may be a situation when it is necessary to know first aid for a choking baby.

There are certain ways to prepare for situations that can ease your mind and ensure that if the unthinkable happens, your baby will be safe because you know what to do.


What’s Causing My Baby to Choke?

The first thing to determine in a situation where a newborn is choking on breastmilk or formula is to understand what the cause of the choking is.

The biggest cause for a newborn choking on breastmilk is an overactive letdown. The baby can not keep up with the amount of milk available, and he or she chokes on their meal. In order to deal with this situation, the best thing to do is attempt different strategies to control letdown.

Try the following:

  • Nurse in a reclined position with baby above the breast. This allows the baby to eat without the drag of gravity.
  • Unlatch baby during letdown and allow milk to spray into a towel for a few seconds. Then, your baby can eat at a more reasonable pace.
  • Pump an ounce from each breast before latching baby to eat. This sometimes helps with letdown and allows baby to nurse without choking.


First Aid for Choking

If the baby is choking and it is not on breastmilk, it is important to understand basic first aid for infants and toddlers. This allows you to be prepared in the event an object or food becomes lodged in your little one’s throat.

The first step is to hold baby along the forearm, facing downward. Place your forearm against your thigh for extra support. Position the baby so the head is lower than the bottom.

The next step is to use the heel of the hand and strike the baby between the shoulder blades. Five blows should be sufficient to dislodge the object. This is the cure for the majority of choking incidents.

In a situation where the back blows are not successful, turn the baby over. Use two fingers to push inward and upward against the breastbone, so the motion goes toward the baby’s head. Try to dislodge the object with each thrust. Try five if it is not dislodged.

If the object is visible, sweep the mouth and throat and dislodge the object causing issues.


Prevent Infant Choking

As a parent, a key to keeping your child safe is preventing a situation when possible. In order to add preventative measures to first aid for choking baby, make sure to do the following:

  • do not introduce solid foods too early: recommendations are currently to wait until six months to introduce solid foods. Some doctors recommend introduction at four months. However, earlier than that can lead to choking, as a baby’s instincts are not in place to help them consume solid food.
  • Always supervise meals: Parents should always be present with their child and ready to help a child if they need assistance.
  • Take special care with foods that are high risk: Certain foods, like hot dogs, pretzel sticks, fruit and raw vegetables, should not simply be handed to a young child. Instead, be sure to cut foods into very small bites, so as to ensure they can swallow even if they do not chew properly. Avoid hard candy and popcorn until they are older and able to handle such foods.
  • Keep small toys away from small children: Make sure the toys your child plays with do not come apart to allow parts to fit in the child’s mouth. Marbles and small balls should be kept away from children until they are older and do not instinctively put objects in their mouth.


Situations where you are faced with a newborn choking on breastmilk or a toddler choking on a toy can be frightening. However, being prepared and aware a situation can happen will help you to handle the event more calmly if it does occur. Then, you are sure to help your baby the best way you can and make sure of his or her safety.

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