Chocking in Babies.

Choking in babies is a common incident in the US. It can be severe and even threaten to rob a baby of his precious life.

Research shows that at least a baby dies every five days from choking, and most of these deaths are brought about by foods, sweets, and metals such as coins.

Infants are vulnerable to choking because they have a small airway, which cannot act as effective as that of an older person. 

A baby also, as you would expect, has not mastered the concept of passing staff down their throat and is likely to get chocked in the process.

Furthermore, infants are exposed to choking when they start mastering the art of grabbing and holding things into their hands since everything that is held at hand is straight away directed into the mouth and will, therefore, be probably swallowed.

They can swallow anything tangible, be it a stick, coins, papers, playing toys, or even get chocked by their own hands.

What is Choking?

Choking is the inability to pass air freely due to blockage or constriction of the trachea. Choking in babies happens when an object or food particle gets lodged in the windpipe or throat, thereby blocking the free flow of air.

A seriously blocked airway is a medical emergency that requires an urgent response because a clogged or blocked windpipe means one cannot breathe, and if they can’t breathe, then death is likely to follow.

Choking is one of the top causes of mortality among children under the age of 4 years. Research shows that at least a baby dies every five days from choking, and most of these are brought about by foods, sweets, and metals such as coins.

It is therefore advisable that all parents and caregivers be watchful of every step their young ones take

Time is of Essence.

During choking, time determines the severity of damage that occurs. That is why we said earlier that airway blockage is an emergency that needs to be taken care of as quickly as possible.

Below is the duration of choking alongside possible damage that can come by.

  • 0-4 minutes – Unlikelihood of brain damage
  • 4-6 minutes – Possible brain damage
  • 6-10 minutes- the likelihood of brain damage
  • 10+ minutes (more than 10minutes) – Probable brain death

From the above illustration, the brain can be easily damaged within a very short time.

The brain is a major organ in the human body. It controls almost all the activities that take place in the body. Immediately the windpipe is blocked; there is no air going in or out of the lungs.

Normally, we take in oxygen that circulates from the lungs to other body parts, tissues & cells, releases deoxygenated air from the lungs, and continues.

So when there is no supply of oxygen in the body to vital parts like the brain, the functioning of the rest of the body is disrupted, brain cells run out of oxygen and start to die off.

When these cells die, a person starts to show signs of confusion and may even collapse and become unconscious. 

Signs of Choking

It is very easy to identify choking in babies. The major signs and symptoms include;

  • Coughing, gagging or both
  • Struggling to breath
  • Difficulty in uttering any word or cry
  • Nonverbal communication to indicate choking
  • Restlessness all over a sudden
  • Wheezing 
  • Passing out
  • Opening of the mouth while making funny sounds or no sound at all
  • Irritability

Lastly, extremities such as turning blue (lips, fingernails, face) indicate low oxygen circulation.

How to Manage Chocking

  • Quickly evaluate the circumstance

When the baby stops crying, talking, or laughing abruptly, he/she probably has something blocking the windpipe.

And if the baby is coughing, it means that the airways are somehow blocked but not completely. In this situation, encourage coughing since it will remove the solid out of the trachea.

  • Back strokes

Back hits and blows will aid dislodge the particles blocking the airway. This step must be taken immediately after about two minutes of coughing with no promising outcome.

Here’s what to do to remedy choking in babies; 

  • Sit upright, 
  • Place the baby on your arm facing the ground and make sure the child is not in a position that may cause more injury.
  • Lower your thigh to ensure that the baby’s head is lower than the chest.
  • Using your palm of the other hand, give five hard and distinct blows on the space between the baby’s shoulders. This alone may cause the object to become out.

The Chest thrust

If the blows do not bring out the object, then it is time to try a chest thrust. Turn the over and use the thumb and fingers to hold the baby with the head lower than the chest.

Put two fingers at the center of the baby’s breastbone. Give fast chest compressions in a gentle but firm way. 

  • Redo the procedure

Repeat the process if the object is not dislodged with a chest thrust. Do the backstrokes and then chest thrust alternatively until the baby starts to cough or cry.

You can also now open the baby’s mouth to try and see if the object choking the baby is visible. If visible, pull it out using your hand. If not, do not put your hands in the baby’s mouth since you can push it further unexpectedly.

  • Call 911 

This is an emergency number that can offer great help in terms of complications. Also, try other methods like calling a nearby friend, relative, or neighbor to get help. 

Discuss all steps you take with the operator, but be sure to inform them if the child becomes unconscious.

  • Perform CPR

CPR is done if the baby goes to unconsciousness, so it is important to tell the 911 operator if this happens. 

A set of CPR includes 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths. 

What you have to do is;

  • Put your child on a flat surface; look if the object inside is visible and easy to reach.
  • Put two fingers on your baby’s breastbone and apply firm pressure that compresses the chest about a third at a rhythm of between 100 – 120 compressions per minute.
  • Complete 30 chest compressions.
  • Tilt the baby’s head back and lift the chin to open the airway. Then give two rescue breaths by closing the baby’s mouth and nose and blow every breath in for 1second.
  • Repeat the process until help comes.

While doing all these, please note that CPR is not for bringing the child back to consciousness but for ensuring that oxygen and blood keep on circulating to all parts of the body, mostly in the brain.

How Can You Prevent Choking in Babies?

 Choking in infants is preventable. The following measures can help a parent prevent choking in kids; 

  • Introduce solid foods to the baby at the recommended time. 

The most likely recommended time age is six months. The baby is supposed to breastfeed exclusively for six months before the introduction of any other solid food.

  • Stay away from high-risk food.

Avoid hard foods that may chock the baby. As you start introducing your child to solid foods, begin with the likes of soft mashed foods, and adjust to other types as the baby grows. 

Also avoid foods that contain seeds like nuts, popcorn, and others

  • Be keen during meal times.

During meals, ensure that you are very careful with whatever goes into the mouth of the baby. 

The baby should never be left to feed alone. 

Even older babies who have mastered this art should be monitored during meal times and told to chew food properly before swallowing. Games must be avoided during meals. 

  • Keep hazardous objects out of sight.

While monitoring a baby, ensure that things which can cause chocking are out of reach. Be keen on the environment, as well as the toys your child touches.

  • Consult with your doctor

Pediatricians can help you with the introduction of foods and the best way to present them to a child. Consult if you are in doubt.

In conclusion

Babies are innocent beings trying to cope with the surrounding and must be given maximum attention at all times to prevent serious accidents like choking

It is the parent or caregiver’s responsibility to watch the baby’s surroundings and ensure that objects like chewing gum, marbles, coins, and even the food do not choke the infant.

Also, remember to respond immediately in case of any incidents of choking in babies. Take a CPR and First Aid course to respond better to emergencies that could threaten children’s’ lives.