In an ideal world a baby would never pick up a toy and put it in it’s mouth. In reality babies are constantly learning and every object is a toy that can be chewed on and swallowed. If the toy or objects is bigger than the wind wipe then you can go from having a joyful playing baby to a choking one in an instant. As a parent or guardian could you react in a manner that could prevent a disaster? What if you knew that the skills required are simple to learn and have a success rate of over 90%.
If you walked into a room and found your baby choking on a foreign object it is not realistic to suggest you wouldn’t panic. Panicking however will not help, and instead keeping calm and confident could rescue the situation. Paediatric first aid courses teach a simple set of principles that if applied correctly can clear any foreign object. The first thing to do is check the baby’s mouth to see if you can see the object blocking his / her oxygen supply. The rule is if you can see it pull the object out, but if you can’t don’t sweep the mouth as you could lodge the object further down the wind pipe.
In most circumstances checking the mouth can be enough to clear the object and nip the potential disaster in the bud. If however you cannot see what is blocking the baby’s mouth you can move on to a process of back slaps. Although it sounds like a wrestling move in reality the back slaps have an 80% success rate. That means that if you know how to perform this simple skill you will more often than not clear the object, and save the day. The back slaps involve leaning the baby over your knee facing away from you, and then delivering five sharp back slaps upwards across the shoulder blades.
In 20% of these emergency situations back slaps will still not be enough to clear the object. There is no time however for further panic and the inevitable question of why me? It is time to think fast and apply the second first aid skill that you have learnt on your course. This requires you to use two fingers to push upwards on the wind pipe five times. The idea is that you create an upward rush of air that will thrust the object clear out of the wind pipe. It is essential to face the baby’s mouth towards the floor so that if you do clear the object it will fall straight out. These skills should never be practiced on a real baby and instead can be learnt on paediatric first aid courses.
The chest thrusts is a skilful first aid move that has outstanding results. Once the object has cleared from the wind pipe you will have a recovering baby on your hand. The good news is that choking only causes temporary suffering, and once normal breathing resumes a baby will make a full recovery. It is however important to seek medical attention to ensure that the baby is well, and to give yourself peace of mind.
In conclusion the main point to consider is that you can help a choking baby if you are first aid trained. The skills learnt on paediatric first aid courses are simple however they do require a time and cost commitment. However one day of your life or £65 out of your wallet is a small price to pay for saving a life. Sign up for a course, because as they say ‘life’s for learning’.