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How to Help a Choking Infant

Updated on May 26, 2012


Choking is when food or another object gets stuck in the airway or throat. The object stops air from getting to the lungs.

Some choking is mild and some is severe. If it's severe, act fast. Get the object out so the infant can breathe.



  • If the infant can make sounds.
  • If the infant can cough loudly.


  • Stand by and let her cough
  • If you are worried about the infant's breathing phone 911.


  • If the infant cannot breath or has a cough that has no sound or cannot make a sound.


  • Act quickly
  • Follow the steps to help a choking infant.


When an infant has severe choking, use back slaps and chest thrusts to help remove the object blocking the airway.

STEP 1: Hold the infant facedown on your forearm. Support the infant's head and jaw with your hand.
STEP 2: Give up to 5 back slaps with the heel of your other hand between the infant's shoulder blades.
STEP 3: If the object does not come out after 5 back slaps, turn the infant onto their back, supporting the head.
STEP 4: Give up to 5 chest thrusts using 2 fingers of your other hand to push on the chest in the same place you push during CPR.
STEP 5: Repeat giving 5 back slaps and 5 chest thrusts until the infant can breathe, cough, or cry or until he stops responding.


If you give an infant back slaps and chest thrusts and can't remove the object blocking the airway, the infant will stop responding. Pushing on his chest may force the object out.

If the infant stops responding, follow these steps:

STEP 1: Place the infant faceup on a firm, flat surface above the ground, such as a table.

STEP 2: Tap and shout.

STEP 3: Yell for help.

STEP 4: Check breathing.

STEP 5: Push on the chest 30 times.

STEP 6: After 30 pushes, open the airway. If you see an object in the mouth, take it out.

STEP 7: Give 2 breaths

STEP 8: Repeat giving sets of 30 pushes and 2 breaths, checking the mouth for objects after each set of pushes.

STEP 9: After 5 sets of 30 pushes and 2 breaths, phone 911.

STEP 10: Give sets of 30 pushes and 2 breaths, checking the mouth for objects after each set of pushes, until the infant starts to respond or someone with more advanced training arrives and takes over.


Giving thrusts to an infant's belly could cause serious harm. Only give back slaps and chest thrusts to an infant.

If another person is with you when the infant stops responding - or if you can yell for help and get someone to come help you - then send the other person or people to phone 911 while you start pushing hard and fast and giving breaths. You push and give breaths; they phone.


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