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How to Help Your Choking Child

How to Help Your Choking Child - CPR and Safety Lady

Witnessing your child choking is a possibility that instills fear in every parent's heart. The panic in those critical moments is overwhelming; every second feels like an eternity. Unfortunately, choking occurs far too often. Consider these heartbreaking figures for the United States alone:

  • a child dies from choking on food every five days, and

  • approximately 12,000 children require urgent medical attention each year due to choking incidents.


These are not just statistics but real-life stories of what could have been avoided. Choking poses a serious risk to young children, but fortunately, it is also highly preventable. It is crucial for us, as parents, teachers, caregivers, and grandparents, to educate ourselves on how to reduce these risks and respond effectively in such critical situations.


What would you do? 

ABC's Good Morning America recently broadcast a segment featuring a well-known reality TV star's first-hand experience with this nightmare scenario. His toddler was eating a meal with the family, but the child was forcefully coughing, and the father interpreted this as choking. The father reacted by lifting his toddler and "patting him on the back" while we see the child continue coughing. Meanwhile, the child's mother is seen bringing a suction device to use on the child.


This instance ended in good news, but that could have easily not been the case. A child who is forcefully coughing is NOT choking and does not need intervention. Back-slapping while a child is forcefully coughing can lodge the food/object further down the airway. Back-slapping is only instructed for infants under the age of one who are choking, not for toddlers.


This story illustrates the need for all parents to learn how to help a choking child, whether taking in-person or reputable online CPR training. It's a reminder that while we all want to act quickly, understanding the right way to help is just as important. In addition, the current suction devices on the market have not been steeped in science or research, and no major medical organizations endorse these products.


Choking Hazards

Another recent incident involved a one-year-old and water beads, a popular sensory play item that can be dangerous. If swallowed, water beads can cause choking, severe discomfort, intestinal blockages, and life-threatening injuries. In fact, in December 2023, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voiced support for a bill to ban all water beads due to their unsafe nature.


This toddler swallowed a few water beads, known as Orbeez, unbeknownst to the parents. Her child required two surgeries to remove the water beads from his intestines successfully. This child's ordeal is a stark warning about seemingly harmless objects and learning more about reducing risks.


Learn CPR 

As we navigate the joys and challenges of parenting, let's arm ourselves with the tools and training needed to protect our little ones. If you're interested in learning how to prevent and respond to choking, consider my digital course, "How to Help Your Choking Child." It's a step towards empowering yourself with life-saving knowledge.

Gail Gould

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