My child is finding eating and drinking difficult (e.g. coughing, choking)

If your child has been choking and is not conscious 

How to give baby CPR

This video by the St John’s Ambulance Service demonstrates CPR for babies under the age of one.

How to do Child CPR

This video by the St John’s Ambulance Service demonstrates CPR for children over the age of one year.

If your child is currently choking (airway is suddenly blocked) but is still conscious and responsive:

  • If you can see something in their mouth, which you are sure can be removed easily, then try and clear it.
  • If your child is coughing then encourage them to continue coughing.
  • Call for help from another adult in the house if possible. Do not leave the child alone.

If your child cannot cough and clear the obstruction then you need to administer back blows:

If your baby is under 1 year

  • Lay your baby face down along your thighs, supporting their head with your hand.
  • Give 5 sharp back blows with the heel of one hand in the middle of the back between the shoulder blades.
  • If back blows do not relieve the choking then you need to give chest thrusts to your baby (under 1 year).
  • Lay your baby face up along the length of your thighs.
  • Find the breast bone and place 2 fingers in the middle.
  • Give 5 sharp thrusts (pushes) compressing (pushing the chest down by about 1/3).

This video by the St John’s Ambulance Service demonstrates What to do if Your Baby is Choking

If your baby is over 1 year

  • Support your child in a forward leaning position and give 5 back blows from behind.
  • If this does not clear the obstruction then you need to give abdominal thrusts to your child (over 1 year).
  • Stand/kneel behind your child. Place your arms under your child’s arms and around their upper abdomen. 
  • Clench your fist and place it between the navel and the ribs.
  • Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
  • Repeat up to 5 times.
  • Do not put pressure on the lower ribcage.

This video by the The British Red Cross demonstrates How to Save a Choking Child

If the object is still not dislodged and your child is still conscious call 999 for emergency assistance and continue administering back blows and thrusts until help arrives.

Click here to read the NHS guidelines on ‘How to stop a child from choking’. 

We strongly advise you to contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service urgently if you think your child is:

  • Regularly coughing and choking on food or drinks
  • Having noisy or wet sounding breathing after eating or drinking
  • Showing signs of lips or facial colour changing or eye tearing when feeding
  • Having regular chest infections and is needing antibiotics for their chest frequently
  • Under 6 months and is refusing bottle feeds persistently
  • Under 6 months and you are concerned about their weight

If you live within the Cardiff and Vale area, please contact our service on 029 2183 6585.

Lots of parents do find weaning babies and moving toddlers onto different types of foods extremely difficult. It may be that the symptoms are not as serious as those described above but gagging, spitting food out, refusing food and even vomiting are frequent concerns that parents want help with to manage.

Firstly, consider if your child is unwell, constipated or experiencing the discomfort of reflux and if this is a possibility discuss with your GP/Health visitor as these symptoms will affect feeding.

Have a look at the advice sheets below for ideas on managing gagging, introducing solids, trying new foods and moving on with textures. Try the strategies suggested in the advice sheets but if your concerns persist please contact the Speech and Language Therapy department for further advice.

Dealing with gagging

Encouraging texture exploration

Encouraging first tastes

Encouraging first solids

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