The Importance of CPR for Choking

Firstly, let’s understand the gravity of the situation. Infants, particularly those below the age of one, are highly susceptible to choking. Their tiny airways can easily get obstructed by small objects, food, or even mucus. W

hen choking occurs, the baby’s oxygen supply is compromised. This is where CPR for choking becomes indispensable.

Understanding CPR for infants

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) for infants is a life-saving technique you should use when an infant (age less than 1 year, excluding newborns) is not breathing and has no pulse. The steps for CPR differ between adults, children, and infants due to their size and the nature of the most common emergencies they face.

Here’s a basic guide for infant CPR:

Before Starting CPR

  1. Ensure Safety: Make sure the environment is safe for both the baby and you.
  2. Check Responsiveness: Gently tap or shout at the baby to see if there’s any reaction.
  3. Call for Help: If the baby is unresponsive, shout for help. If someone is nearby, have them call 911 or your local emergency number. If you are alone, provide 2 minutes of CPR and then call 911.

Image alt text: illustration of how to perform CPR for choking.


CPR for Infants

  1. Compressions:
    • Lay the baby on a firm surface.
    • Place two fingers (typically your index and middle finger) in the center of the baby’s chest, just below the nipple line.
    • Push down about 1.5 inches deep, aiming for at least 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
    • Allow the chest to return to its normal position after each compression, without lifting your fingers off the baby’s sternum.
  2. Breaths:
    • After 30 compressions, give breaths.
    • Cover the baby’s mouth and nose with your mouth, creating an airtight seal.
    • Give 2 gentle breaths, each lasting about 1 second, making sure you can see the baby’s chest rise with each breath.
  3. Continue:
    • Keep repeating the cycle of 30 compressions and 2 breaths.
    • If there’s an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) available, use it after 5 cycles or about 2 minutes of CPR. Follow the AED’s voice instructions. AEDs for adults typically come with pediatric settings or pads.

Keep providing CPR for infantuntil the baby starts breathing, professional help arrives, or you are too exhausted to continue.

Steps to Perform CPR for Choking

  1. Recognize the Signs: If an infant can’t cry, cough, or seems to be struggling for air, they might be choking. The baby might also turn a bluish color due to a lack of oxygen.
  2. Position the Infant: Lay the infant face down on your forearm, supporting their head and neck with your hand. Ensure their head is lower than their chest.
  3. Administer Back Blows: With the heel of your free hand, deliver five forceful blows between the infant’s shoulder blades. Each blow should be distinct and forceful enough to attempt dislodging the blockage.
  4. Turn and Check: Carefully turn the infant onto their back, supporting the head and neck. Check the mouth and throat for any visible obstructions. If you see something, try to remove it gently with a finger sweep.
  5. Attempt Chest Thrusts: If the object remains lodged, position the baby on their back. Place two fingers in the middle of their chest, just below the nipple line, and perform five quick compressions.
  6. Alternate: If the obstruction remains, continue alternating between back blows and chest thrusts.
  7. Start CPR: If the baby becomes unresponsive, start CPR immediately. CPR for choking includes both chest compressions and rescue breaths. If you’re trained in infant CPR, perform it; if not, just do the chest compressions until help arrives.

When to Seek Emergency Assistance

Always call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you suspect an infant is choking, even if you manage to clear the obstruction. It’s essential to ensure that no complications arise afterward.

Commonly Asked Questions

  1. Q:How can I prevent choking in infants?
    A: Always supervise infants when they’re eating. Keep small objects out of their reach, and ensure that toys are age-appropriate without small detachable parts.
  2. Q:How often should I get re-certified in infant CPR?
    A: It’s recommended to get re-certified every two years to stay updated with the latest techniques.
  3. Q:Can I harm an infant by performing CPR incorrectly?
    A: While it’s crucial to be gentle with infants, in a life-threatening situation like choking, it’s better to act than do nothing. However, always follow guidelines and get proper training.
  4. Q:What’s the difference between choking and gagging?
    A: Gagging is a natural reflex, and it helps prevent choking. An infant might gag when trying new foods but will generally recover quickly. Choking is when the airway is blocked, posing an immediate threat.
  5. Q:How deep should the chest compressions be for infants?
    A: For infants, compress the chest about 1.5 inches deep.


Being knowledgeable about CPR for choking is essential for anyone who spends time around infants. Whether you’re a parent, a caretaker, or just a frequent visitor, these skills can prove invaluable in a crisis.

Always remember to stay calm, act swiftly, and seek professional training to ensure you’re prepared to handle such emergencies effectively.