Learning how to administer CPR to a baby at a St John Ambulance Cymru first aid training course

How to Perform First Aid on an Infant or Baby that is Choking

When a baby is choking, their airway is partly or completely blocked, meaning that they may be unable to breathe properly. As you start weaning your baby and they begin eating solid foods or playing with small objects, they may be at risk of choking. 

What to look for

A choking baby may: 

  • be unable to breathe, cry, or cough 
  • have a red puffy face 
  • show signs of distress. 

If your baby is under one year old this advice will help you to know what to do if they choke. Find out how to help an older child or adult.


What to do

If you think the baby is choking then they need your help straight away. If they can breathe, are making noises, or coughing, then they may be able to clear their own throat. 

Follow the steps below:

Step 1 

If the baby cannot breathe, cry, or cough, they may be choking and you will need to give five back blows. 

Lay the baby face down along your forearm and thigh, making sure you support their head and neck. Give five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. 

Step 2 

Turn them over on your thigh and check their mouth. Pick out any obvious obstructions you can see with your fingertips. 

Do not sweep the mouth as this could push the object further down the throat. 

Step 3 

If back blows fail to clear obstruction, give five chest thrusts with your baby facing upwards, making sure you’re supporting their head and neck. Put two fingers in the centre of their chest just below the nipple line and give five sharp chest thrusts. 

Check their mouth again, each time you deliver a chest thrust. 

Step 5 

Call 999 or 112 for emergency help if the obstruction hasn't cleared. Take the baby with you to make the call. 

Keep repeating five back blows and five chest thrusts until help arrives, checking their mouth each time. 

If the baby becomes unresponsive at any point, prepare to start CPR

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