Choking Rescue for Babies

Overview

Choking rescue procedure (Heimlich maneuver) for a small child.
Choking rescue procedure (Heimlich maneuver) for a small child.

If the baby can cough or make sounds, let the baby cough to try to get the object out. If you are worried about the baby's breathing, call 911.

WARNING: Do not begin the choking rescue procedure unless you are certain that the baby is choking.

If a baby can't breathe, cough, or make sounds, then:

  • Put the baby facedown on your forearm so the baby's head is lower than the baby's chest.
  • Support the baby's head in your palm, against your thigh. Don't cover the baby's mouth or twist the baby's neck.
  • Use the heel of one hand to give up to 5 back slaps between the baby's shoulder blades.
  • If the object does not pop out, support the baby's head and turn the baby faceup on your thigh. Keep the baby's head lower than the baby's body.
  • Place 2 or 3 fingers just below the nipple line on the baby's breastbone and give 5 quick chest thrusts (same position as chest compressions in CPR for a baby).
  • Keep giving 5 back slaps and 5 chest thrusts until the object comes out or the baby faints.
  • If the baby faints, call 911 (if you haven't called already). Then:
    • Do not do any more back slaps or chest thrusts.
    • Start CPR. If you do rescue breaths, look for an object in the mouth or throat each time the airway is opened during CPR. If you see the object, take it out. But if you can't see the object, don't stick your finger down the baby's throat to feel for it.
    • Keep doing CPR until the baby is breathing on their own or until help arrives.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine