Guide: Choking during and after a feed

Guide: Choking during and after a feed

“My baby chokes on his feed fairly frequently”.

Choking happens when the baby’s airway suddenly gets blocked so they cannot breathe.

Choking in babies under one year old

A baby who is choking will be distressed and may be unable to cry, cough or breathe. This is what the NHS suggests to resolve the episode quickly and calmly.

  • Lie the baby face down along your forearm or thigh, with their head low. Support their head.
  • Give up to five firm slaps to the baby’s back between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. (The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist.)
  • Stop after each slap to check if the blockage has cleared. Look inside the baby’s mouth and remove any obvious blockage. Do not poke your fingers into the baby’s mouth unless you can see and reach the blockage. You may push it further in.
  • If the airway is still blocked, give up to five chest thrusts (see below).
  • Stop after each thrust to check if the blockage has cleared or been brought back up.

If the baby’s airway is still blocked after three cycles of back slaps and chest thrusts, you should:

  • dial 999 for an ambulance immediately. Do not leave the baby – take him or her with you to the phone
  • continue with the cycles of back slaps and chest thrusts until help arrives
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