Babies do cough and splutter while they are learning to eat, but do you know what to do if they start choking?
Here’s a quick guide to spotting choking and the best way to help them safely and quickly.
At a glance
- Babies won't be able to cry, cough, make any other noise or breathe if they are choking so make sure you are always watching them.
Because babies are so new to food, things can go down the wrong way more easily than usual. So it’s really important you stay with them all the time they’re eating – just in case.
Gagging, Coughing, spluttering and choking
Babies do gag, cough and splutter sometimes while they are learning to eat - it’s a normal part of learning how to cope with all that lovely solid food. Babies cough back (or gag) a lump or piece of food that is too big for them to swallow. They can then chew it a bit more before trying again.
Choking is when the food becomes stuck and they cannot cough or gag it back.
If they seem to be struggling, they may have food stuck and need some gentle help. You can pop your finger in their mouth to clear some of the food – but if they’re choking, be careful not to push it further down.
Some babies may simply shove too much food in their mouths and then find they can’t swallow it. Again, put your finger in their mouth and scoop out some of the extra food.
If your baby is choking, they won’t be able to cry, cough, make any other noise or breathe. To make sure you know what to do if this happens, watch the St John Ambulance video, for a baby who is choking now.
‘Knowing what to do about choking was so useful when my baby tried to swallow a pound coin! I tipped her over and hit her on the back sharply five times – and the coin flew out.’ - Ruth, mum of 2.