If Your Toddler Was Choking, Would You Know What To Do?

Seeing a child that is choking, especially your own, can be a very distressing sight and can cause people to panic. However, it is vitally important to know exactly what you must and must not do in these situations.

toddler eating

Knowing When a Toddler Is Choking

It might sound simple but you should be aware of what signs you should be looking for when a toddler is choking, rather than just pretending that something is wrong or playing a game. To know for certain there are a number of sure signs that your child is actually choking, these are as follows;

  • Gasping, wheezing or an inability to breathe.
  • An inability to talk, cry or make noise.
  • Bluish hue to their skin.
  • Panicked expression.
  • Grabbing of the throat.

What to Do If A Toddler Is Choking

Doing the right thing in the right situation is vitally important, the last thing you want to do is to make the situation worse.

If the toddler is choking but can still cough and cry then it means that their trachea is only partially blocked. In this situation it is the best policy to wait to see if they can cough out the object on their own. Trying to help them could unintentionally make the situation worse, and the child is likely to get the object free after a brief coughing spell.

If your child is choking and unable to cough or breathe that is when you should react immediately. If you are aware of how to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on a child do so immediately, if however you are unaware of how to do so call the emergency services immediately.

Performing the Heimlich Maneuvre on a Toddler

If you are required to perform the Heimlich maneuvre on a toddler follow these simple steps;

  • Deliver five quick slaps between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
  • Whilst behind the child wrap your arms around them so that your hands are in front of their chest.
  • Make a fist with one hand, above the child’s belly button but bellow the breastbone.
  • Take hold of your fist with the other hand and make quick inward and upward thrusts into the belly until the object becomes dislodged.
  • Alternate between back slaps and thrusts until the object becomes dislodged.

If The Toddler Looses Consciousness

If the Heimlich manoeuvre fails to work and your child looses consciousness have someone immediately call for an ambulance. Look in to the child’s mouth to check for the object. If you can see the object and are able to remove it with a sweep of your finger do so. If your child does not regain consciousness begin performing CPR until the ambulance arrives and paramedics take over from you.

Hopefully, these are toddler safety tips that you will never have to use but it is always better to be prepared!

Guest post by Ann Wallace who is a first aid trainer in Scotland. She encourages people to learn more about first aid, as it is a key factor to saving lives. 


  1. says

    Thanks for this! We took a CPR class which was invaluable. Even though we never had to use it, it’s good to have confidence, i think. It was totally worth the time.

    Things happen so fast.

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing this great information. My oldest son (who is now 19) choked twice when he was little (around 1 or 2). The first time, I went into a panic (and I’m a nurse!). But, seeing your own kid in distress is very difficult. The second time, I responded right away and had to perform the Heimlich – it worked and out popped the chunk of cantaloupe he was choking on. Very scary stuff but every parent or person taking care of children should practice these life-saving techniques.

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