Baby Led Weaning

Growing healthy babies with healthy appetites

FYI New Guidelines on Choking and Infant Resus

First of all, it goes without saying that if you’re doing BLW this is an area that you will have looked into already. (And if you haven’t… as they say on the adverts… just do it. Crazy not to.)

Personally, I think every parent should try to investigate some basic infant resus, because as those little blighters become more mobile and more curious they have a habit of picking more daft objects up to check if they are food or not. I cannot tell you how high we had to keep our first daughter’s brightly coloured school erasers in order to keep them away from our younger child.

From what I saw on our Facebook page this morning, it seems like this is a technique already advocated in the US and Australia, but for the benefit of the UK and anyone else who is interested, here is the latest video as featured in a Sky news report. 

In fact, it differs only very slightly to the rather brilliant UK National Health Service video ‘How to help a choking child’.  

Can you see, in the NHS video the baby rests on the woman’s arm throughout much of her resus? Whereas St John Ambulance are now saying that there will be better support if the child is on the arm AND thigh? A tiny difference but if it’s best practice, let’s do it! (Might have been better if the St John uniform wasn’t so dark, eh? Can you even see those trousers?)


choking image

As an aside, it is also interesting to query the figures mentioned in the Sky News report, reproduced below. In a survey of parents of 1000 under-fives, 380 said they had seen their child choke, with only 50% knowing what to do in that event. There are two ways of looking at this… one, 190 children choked, and their parents didn’t know what to do but everyone (we assume, for Sky News would have looked for the goriest story possible) was okay. That’s encouraging (but still do your homework).

The other way of looking at it is that parents STILL don’t know the difference between choking and gagging and some of the chokes were mis-represented gags. It is worth knowing the difference as going straight for resus when they’re dealing with a gag can cause babies to aspirate food.

Gagging is actually a safety response to food travelling too far back into the mouth so when we see our babies gagging they are actually handling the problem and it’s best just to keep calm (or at least look calm) and wait until it passes. Choking, you will know about. The baby looks panicked, no or very little sound can come out, and lips may actually start turning blue. Be smart, educate yourself and know how to act quickly. 

So all in all, it’s good news for the BLW crew, in that each and every one of us should already have considered choking, and how we will respond should it happen. (For the record, it happened once with my first child… dratted raw apple, and this below was her a minute later, after she had gotten over it and was onto a rice cake. It just never happened with my second.)


New first aid advice on how to help a choking baby has been issued to parents.

St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross and St Andrew’s First Aid have updated their advice after research suggested that many parents did not know what action to take.

The new advice is to place the baby face down along the thigh while an adult strikes the child’s back.

First aid experts say this gives the baby more support compared with the previous advice, which was to place the baby along the adult’s arm.

A survey of 1,000 parents of under-fives found 38% had seen their child choke.

Half of the parents said they did not know the correct way to help their child or how to clear the obstruction.

Nearly half said they avoided giving their child certain foods in case they choked.

Clive James, training officer at St John Ambulance, said: ‘If an infant is choking then, in the first instance, they should be laid face down along your thigh and supported by your arm, give them five back blows between the shoulder blades with your heel of your hand.

“Previously this was done along the arm but the leg is felt to be more secure and provide more support.

“Check their mouth for any obstruction. If there is still a blockage then turn the infant onto their back and give up to five chest thrusts.

“Use two fingers, push inwards and upwards against their breastbone.

“If the obstruction does not clear after three cycles of back blows and chest thrusts, call for an ambulance and continue until help arrives.”


Related Posts:

Tags: , , , ,



17 Responses to “FYI New Guidelines on Choking and Infant Resus”

  1. Cherrypop says:

    Interesting. When we had our resus training when DD was newborn (she’s 15mo now), the HV advocated laying along the thigh, so I thought that’s was general advice.

    Thankfully, I’ve never had cause to practice, although my DS is eating an apple right at this moment and I’m warding her off with satsuma pieces, as every time she’s had raw apple she has had spectacular gags.

    • Aitch says:

      I was being such a show-off with the apple that time… my pal gave her wee boy some, and he was a couple of months older, so she gave DD some as well. SHOULD have said ‘oh er no’ but was too embarrassed… not my finest parenting hour.

  2. PerpetualMadness says:

    Interesting because that is exactly how the St John’s ambulance told us to do it in our class when My oldest was a baby so 5.5-6 years ago…

    • Aitch says:

      I know, eh? And the NHS vid is scarcely different. However, if you look on Google for images of infant resus there are tons of folks standing up and doing it over the arm, so I guess that must have been a norm.

  3. mamapup says:

    I did competitive lifesaving (no laughing, please) as a teenager and that’s also how I was taught to deal with a choking infant – in the mid 90s.

    I’ve put this training to good use twice – once our son choked on a piece of organix gingerbread man (thus proving categorically that ‘special baby foods’ aren’t a great plan) and once on something else that should have been totally innocuous.

  4. Scotrail says:

    OK, I see the difference, but in practice does it really make a huge one? Presumably someone has dropped the child from their arm while doing it the old way, or something.. ouch.

    Re. the SKY data on choking, that seems way too high! Maybe they’ll issue a correction one day.. you know, SKY News, “never wrong for long!” (apologies for poking fun if any of you work for them ;))

  5. junglewonderland says:

    Thanks for the update. It’s good to have a little reminder and to keep on top of what’s happening in the choking world.

  6. Michelle says:

    I have taken CPR classes several different times, the 1st starting in High school. I’ve had 2 use it 2x. The 1st as a teen on my sisters friends baby that was choking on a cracker. Every1 but me was frantic & she was turning blue. I kept trying 2 tell her mom how 2 do it but she was freaking out & wasn’t listening. Another friend was already on the phone w 911. I ended up grabbing her fr her mom & doing it myself. I couldn’t support her w my arm so I just automatically put her on my knee. It worked much better! The 2nd time was w my own baby when he found something on the floor & put it in his mouth. I noticed him crying while vomiting , & choking. I did a finger sweep & accidently pushed whatever it wa in2 his throat further. I was screaming 4 help but his dad was 2 late. He stopped crying & so Iturned him over on my leg & hit his back. Thankfully whatever it was came out!

    • Aitch says:

      THank heavens you were there. I think that’s the hope, isn’t it, that by training these things will be reflexive while everyone else is freaking out. Awkward finger sweep aside, WELL DONE!

  7. Denise says:

    Are there any foods with a higher risk of choking that you would recommend staying away from?

  8. Dana says:

    Totally new to all this and excited to try. My almost 7 mo. old is not yet sitting on her own, so we’ve not used the high chair yet. She’s clearly interested in food. How do we know when she’s ready to being BLW?

  9. david canning says:

    I used to be the youth and schools trainer at nottinghamshire red cross, and a lead first aid trainer too (special interest in infant and child resuscitation). Here is a bit of extra if anyones interested. The point of the back slaps is to cuase a sudden increase in the air pressure within the airways, and to also cuase a ‘jolting’ of the obstruction. So placing the infant on the thight is much better than along a weak arm. Backslaps are not dangerous, and are very successful, so they should always be used first. The chest thrusts are to cause a large sudden increase of air pressure within the airways to ‘blow/force’ the obstruction out. Chest thrusts DO NOT affect the heart beat, so don’t worry about that. The reason that you must push down AND UPWARD is because adult ribs angle towards our feet, so when the sternum is pressed down the entire chest flattens which compresses the lungs, BUT, and infants lungs are horizontal, so when you press straight down on the sternum the chest bows in the middle and the lungs don’t get ‘squashed’ enough by the ribs, so we press down and upwards (towards the head) because that causes the the ribs to point towards the head and so the entire chest ‘squashes’ the lungs. Hope that was clear, and interesting. Anyway, if you need to help your child with choking, panic as you will, remember that seconds aren’t hours (they seem like it though), so take it slowly and be methodical. It hardly ever fails. Dave. :-)

  10. […] shimmy over here for the latest guidelines on choking and infant resuscitation. While you’re at it don’t forget the videos by Sky […]

  11. […] the latest guidelines on choking and infant resuscitation. You can also learn from the videos by Sky News and UK National […]

  12. […] * At least, that is, until I (and Polly, in my defence) tried to encourage Cousin Ruth to start baby-led weaning. After much hesitation and deliberation R presented the excited baby with a strawberry. He sucked it straight to his windpipe and promptly started trying to gasp while looking very alarmed. As did his mother. I found myself holding him upside down (the approved way, not dangling) and bashing him on the back a couple of times, before, after a final jiggle, he coughed the strawberry out with just a tiny bit of sick. Although I vaguely remember this being pretty par for the course in BLW world, particularly until the baby’s chewing and gagging reflexes are fully tested, it was little consolation to R who made sure I was very definitely held at arm’s length during any further feeding sessions. Very sorry baby J. Hope it hasn’t put you off strawberries. Or me. (For further info on BLW and choking/gagging see: […]

Leave a Reply