Louise Worsley, founder of Worsley Training
Louise has over fifteen years of hands-on First Aid experience, as a global expedition leader and as a parent as well as over ten years’ experience as a teacher in the classroom. She draws from this wealth of experience to provide practical training, grounded in realistic examples so that everyone can feel confident to step forward in an emergency.
Louise has put together some helpful do’s and don’ts on dealing with choking which can be one of the biggest fears of most parents.
Weaning can cause great anxiety when your babies are ready: it makes you chop grapes in half (lengthways) for years and causes you to panic whenever your child splutters while eating a hot dog. But do you actually know what to do if your child choked on a sweet, some food or a small object?
Firstly, it’s good to know the difference between gagging (a natural reflex) and choking (when food is lodged in the airway). Children, especially young ones, often gag while they’re eating. It’s completely normal and doesn’t need any parental intervention. Choking on the other hand is life threatening, as it can cause your child to stop breathing.
Most importantly here’s what not to do - don’t stick your finger in your child’s mouth to try to get the particle out unless you can see it at the front of the mouth. If it is lodged in your child’s airway, then there simply will not be enough space for your finger to get past whatever it is to hook it out, so it will just get pushed further down.
So, what should you do? Firstly, try not to panic as staying calm is critical for both you and your child in any situation where you need to administer first aid. Then you need to force air from their lungs up the airway to force the blockage out – just like popping a cork out of an empty plastic bottle by squeezing it hard - by following these basic steps:
- Encourage them to cough (if old enough to understand this instruction).
- If they can’t, then give up to five firm slaps on their back between their shoulder blades. Babies and small children should be placed over your lap with their head pointing downwards as gravity will help. Check after each slap to see if the obstruction has cleared before repeating the slap.
- After that give up to five abdominal thrusts by wrapping your arms around them from behind, placing one fist on their tummy button and your other hand on top of it, and then pull in and up sharply. Check between each thrust to see if it has worked. (Give chest thrusts to a baby under one year old)
- Ask someone to call 999 and keep repeating the above sequence until it clears.
- If they lose consciousness, you will need to start CPR.
Louise would always recommend that to feel as confident in every situation with your children, it’s best to attend a baby and children’s first aid course which would cover choking in addition to other topics such as CPR, Anaphylaxis and childhood illnesses etc.
If you are based in or near Wiltshire, then Louise offers a Baby & Child First Aid for parents, grandparents and babysitters, and a longer Paediatric First Aid Course for professional childcare providers. More details about these courses and others available can be found at www.worsleytraining.co.uk along with a plethora of useful first aid information.
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