First Aid for Parents - Choking

At Angels, all of our team are highly qualified and they all complete the full 12 hour paediatric first aid course. This is fully refreshed every 3 years and staff are updated on any changes when needed to ensure we can give the best possible care to all children. Although it is rare to have emergency situations, it's very important that everyone knows what to do to help someone if the unexpected happens.

In our blog this week, we will be focusing on choking. It can be more common than we think especially as young children like to explore through taste and can put objects inside their mouth. When a child is weaning around 6 months, they may often gag which is a normal reflex that everyone has. There is a difference between gagging and choking. Gagging is part of the weaning learning curve for babies.

The physical effect of gagging is to:

1. Bring the food back into the mouth.

2. Chew it further.

3. Consume it once more but in a smaller amount.

Although it may seem alarming, gagging is actually a safety mechanism designed to prevent choking. It is important to know the signs. Choking occurs when food blocks the airway, rather than going down the oesophagus. Usually when we eat or drink and swallow, the food goes down into the stomach. Sometimes, particularly if talking, laughing or crying whilst eating, the airways are fully open which may allow food to pass in the wrong way. The body’s natural reaction if this happens is to cough to eject the food. However, if the airway becomes completely blocked the person is unable to cough and is silent.

To prevent choking:

1. Always supervise your child when eating.

2. Cut food into very small pieces – grapes will also need to be cut into smaller pieces


3. Puree or blend foods, especially at the beginning of the weaning process.

4. Ensure small objects are not within reach of a child including things like pen lids and


Please take a look at this video which shows parents what they need to do in a choking incident. St Johns Ambulance have a series of useful videos so please spend a little bit of time taking a look at what they have to offer.

If you are ever in doubt, ask a helper to dial 999.

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