Children and choking - how to respond and save a life

Children and choking - how to respond and save a life

28 March 2017

With busy lives and many things going on at the same time it can be easy to become distracted. Curious babies and children have a tendency to put things in their mouth – often in those moments we aren’t looking. Choking is a common risk for small children and it may come as a surprise to learn that the best way to help a loved one choking is not to administer the Heimlich manoeuvre as commonly seen in the movies. Instead, you should try the following:

Step 1: Encourage them to relax and try to cough to remove the object

Step 2: Call triple zero (000). Bend them forward and give them 5 sharp blows with the heel of your hand to the middle of their back between the shoulder blades

Step 3: If the blockage has not cleared. Place one hand in the middle of the patient’s back for support. Place the heel of the other hand in the CPR compression position on the chest and give five chest thrusts

Step 4: If the blockage has still not cleared, continue alternating five back blows with five chest thrusts until emergency services arrive. If the person becomes unconscious, remove any visible obstruction from the mouth and commence CPR until help arrives.


Our counterparts in the UK have created a fantastic short film called The Chokeables. In forty seconds the film demonstrates exactly how best to save a choking baby. We highly recommend watching this film and sharing it with others!