Signs of Choking in an Infant

The sight of an infant gasping for air while gagging is one no parent ever wants to live to see. Unfortunately this happens to at least one household in America every five days and the results are tragic. Every five days, America loses a child under five years of age to choking which goes to show how serious the complication is.

Choking in infants has been around for ages. Although the number of infants succumbing to choking has reduced by a fourfold in the last 50 years, the statistics are still not the best and no life should be lost because of choking.

A lot of the deaths resulting from choking are preventable. With a little more care and education, a lot of the children lost to choking, would still be around today. To help you as a parent reduce the chances of such a tragedy befalling you, Frontline emergency room has put together this guide on choking and all that you need to know. The guide covers everything from the signs of choking, to the first aid for choking infants and how to prevent future episodes of choking.

Causes of choking in children

Young children who haven’t yet mastered the art of swallowing food, find it very hard to chew and swallow solid foods. As a result, they experience difficulties when eating food unmonitored. If the chunks of food bitten are too big and are not properly chewed, the can get in the way of the airways blocking them hence causing choking.

As the babies also begin crawling and exploring their environment, they end up putting foreign objects into their mouths and some of these cause choking. Since the infants are not strong enough to cough these objects out, the object are lodged in their airways hence causing choking.

Signs and symptoms of choking

Since babies can’t speak or gesticulate to let you know about a stuck piece of meat or chunk of food in their throat, you might not even be aware of the fact that they are choking. As a parent, you therefore need to be on high alert and look out for the signs and symptoms of choking.

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of choking in infants that you should be on the lookout for.

Coughing and wheezing

One of the first signs of a choking infant, is the incessant coughing and wheezing by the baby as he or she attempts to dislodge whatever is stuck in the airways. If you baby is not suffering from any flu or cold and they are uncomfortably coughing and wheezing at a very high pitch, you should check their airways immediately as they could be choking.

Difficulties breathing and gasping

The other sign to look out for, is difficulties breathing and gasping. Partial blocking of the airways makes babies struggle to breathe and they will try as much as possible to gasp for air. If your baby is therefore struggling to catch a breath, check and clear their airways because the baby could be choking.

Face turns blue

When babies are choking, their faces, fingers, necks, lips and even ears will begin turning blue. The choking results in the normal breathing which yields in asphyxia. The lack of enough oxygen in the blood causes a condition referred to as cyanosis which makes a person’s organs turn blue.

It your baby’s skin or major organs are turning blue therefore, you will need to check their airways and ascertain if they are choking or not.


Due the asphyxia caused by the lack of oxygen, the baby will eventually lose consciousness. Once the choking gets to these dangerous levels, you will need to act swiftly or you will end up losing the baby.

This is why it is very imperative to have basic first aid for choking. It can come in handy at times like these. Here are some of the few quick things you will need to do in case you discover that you baby is choking;

  • Upon realization that the baby is choking, ring emergency services immediately and begin administering basic first aid.
  • Keep the baby’s head downwards on your arm and support their head and shoulders on your hand.
  • Hold their mouths open with your fingers and gentle pat their backs five to six times. Ensure that you check if their airways are obstructed with every gentle pat. Increase the intensity of the patting every single time.
  • If the back pats aren’t working, try opening their mouths and removing any obstacle with the pink finger. If this doesn’t work, give the baby chest thrusts.
  • If all this fails, commence CPR to try and resuscitate the baby while waiting for the emergency services to arrive.

Give Frontline Emergency Room a Call

Need more tips on how to handle baby choking in Dallas and Richmond Texas? Give us a call here at Frontline Emergency Room. Besides offering the best no wait emergency care to choking victims, we offer free advice on how to keep your babies safe from choking.

Give Frontline Emergency Room a call today and we will gladly be of service to you.


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