How to Keep Your Baby Safe From Choking

They have to be protected from ingesting dangerous materials.

By Dr. Farooq Mirza
Emergency Department
CHRISTUS Children's

Around eight to nine months of age, infants begin exploring their environment by putting almost everything into their mouths. They have to be protected from ingesting dangerous materials.

Any hard, smooth food that requires a grinding, chewing motion should not be given to young children.

  • Large chunks of foods such as meat, vegetables, etc., are a choking hazard.
  • All nuts (peanuts), hard candy, grapes, raisins, hot dogs, sausages, popcorn, and corn should not be given to children under four years of age, since the chewing motion is not well established. Even thick peanut butter poses a choking hazard for infants.
  • Small items such as coins, buttons, pins, paper clips, etc., should be kept out of reach of young children
  • Un-inflated balloons should not be allowed around children. Balloons and plastic bags or wrap are designed to be airtight. If they are placed over the mouth and nose or are inhaled, they may make a tight seal and smother the child. If an inflated balloon bursts, the pieces should be disposed of immediately.
  • While most toys designed for children under three years are safe, the toys of older siblings pose a danger to their younger brothers and sisters. Take care to ensure that young children do not have access to toys designed for older children.

First aid for a choking child under one year of age

If your baby is choking but can breathe and can make a sound and/or cough, any intervention is dangerous and unnecessary. If she can’t cough, breathe, or make a sound, the following first aid measures are recommended:

  • Place the baby face down on your forearm in a head down position.
  • Administer five back blows rapidly with the heel of your hand, high between the shoulder blades. If the baby begins to breathe and has coughed out the foreign body, no further action is needed.
  • If the baby is still not breathing, turn her over, rest her on a firm surface, and deliver five rapid chest thrusts over the sternum (breast bone) one-finger breadth below the nipple line using two fingers.
  • If breathing is not resumed, open the baby’s mouth and look down in the throat to see if you can hook out the object with your finger. No blind finger sweep should be used.
  • If the baby is still not breathing, give four breaths by mouth‑to‑mouth technique. Meanwhile have someone call 911 for emergency help.
  • Training is available through the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. Every parent should take a class cardiopulmonary resuscitation take these classes.

If you have any questions about what your baby should and should not eat during the first year, talk to your pediatrician. If you need a pediatrician in San Antonio, check out this page.