Choking can be fatal
Choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional deaths in infants in the United States and is often preventable if you are properly trained and know what to do.
Recognizing the signs of a choking infant
The first thing you need to be able to do to save your infant's life is to recognize the danger signs and determine that they are choking. The signs include bluish skin, difficulty breathing with ribs and chest pulled in and the inability to cry or make much sound, just to name a few.
Why is choking so common in infants?
· An infant can choke on anything from a piece of food that they had difficulty chewing to a button they gnawed off of your shirt while you weren’t paying attention to a small toy on the floor that they came across as they were learning how to crawl.
· Sometimes they are able to eventually swallow the obstruction but sometimes it tragically becomes lodged in their airway.
When should First Aid be performed?
· Recognizing that your child is in crisis is when to begin First Aid.
· Do NOT perform First Aid if the infant is coughing hard or has a strong cry. Strong coughs and cries can push the object out of the airway.
The training you receive when you choose to become certified in Infant CPR will include not only high quality CPR in case of cardiac arrest but the Heimlich for infant choking as well. I'm so glad these were all things I knew before I had my first child because they saved his life.
The Day My Baby Was Choking
I remember being a new mom in New York City. My baby boy was almost a toddler - still had the chubby little fingers and dimply hands, doughy cheeks and baby fine hair. Like many other new parents on Saturday mornings on the Upper East Side, we took our beautiful little boy out to brunch - parking our Bugaboo stroller alongside 20 others as we entered the kid-friendly diner.
As my son had already eaten at the crack of dawn when he woke up that morning, only my husband and I ordered breakfast. Once my meal arrived, however; my little one immediately began reaching for the bite-sized pieces of fruit on my plate. After enjoying his first several bites, I noticed something was wrong. He was no longer chewing and he began to look panicked. I kept calling his name, first sweetly, then more firmly and finally screaming. I looked frantically at my husband and said “oh my god - he’s choking!”
At this point, people were starting to approach our table as I was trying to process what was actually happening. There were cooks from the kitchen, wait staff, the host and other customers - all watching us in morbid fascination.
My son’s lips were starting to turn blue as he tried to cough up the piece of fruit that was lodged in his throat to no avail.
As my mind raced, I started to recall the information that I was taught when I took an infant CPR class while I was pregnant. I started to move almost involuntarily as I flipped my little boy onto my forearm and started the process of 5 back thrusts followed by 5 thrusts on his abdomen. After what seemed like an eternity but in reality was probably two minutes, a half inch piece of diced apple flew out of his mouth and he immediately began to cry (as did I). I had never been so relieved to hear anyone cry in my life!
Though you will always hope that you never have to put what you’ve learned into action, making the decision to receive your infant CPR certification will be one of the best decisions you can make for your family.