How to Handle a Choking Emergency

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As I’ve said countless times before, I am apart of several online mommy groups via Facebook. The other morning, I woke up to a very disturbing post from a fellow mama. It read: “I lost my 19 month old son tonight. He choked on a single peanut that he grabbed. We went to a satellite children’s and were airlifted to Denver children’s. My sweet boy sustained injury too much for his little body. Please cherish your babies. I’d never give up my blessed 19 months. He was wonderful. I hope I can find solace and what serenity.”

This hit me HARD. You may remember some of my previous posts from when Sophie was young, that we started solids with her through Baby Led Weaning. It is so fun to watch them eat table foods, but you have to be prepared for the inevitable choking that comes with learning how to eat food. When I was younger, I was certified by the Red Cross in child/infant CPR and Heimlich maneuvers, so I have some of that knowledge tucked away… but I also frequently watched YouTube videos on how to help a choking baby.

If you know some one with babies, if you ever babysit, if you ever go to family gatherings where there are babies, if you are a grandparent or older sibling… it never hurts to brush up on these skills. Cora turns 6 months in a couple weeks, and that is exactly when we will begin solids with her. This was a heartbreaking wake up call both to baby proof and brush up on those life saving skills. There are multiple videos I like, but I’ll share my favorite for now:

THIS video is very straight forward, short, and can easily be shared with others. If you want real life examples, you can search YouTube for “baby led weaning gag reflex [or”choking”]” where parents show you how to handle a child who is not yet choking, but maybe has some food stuck in their mouth. The more familiar you are with a baby and their gag reflex, the more you will be able to remain calm and help that child whether it turns into choking or not. Try not to panic! It is some what normal for children to put things in their mouths and gag. The important thing is that you have the clarity of mind to help them.

It can be hard to balance letting your child learn and explore on their own and being a helicopter parent. I say, let them explore, but have the necessary skills in your arsenal for when things take a wrong turn. Let them explore while still keeping an eye on what exactly they are getting into (like the box of wipes versus a jar of marbles). I know it will be harder for me, having a toddler, as some of Sophie’s toys are smaller choking hazards for her infant sister. You can try to be proactive, but let’s be honest: accidents happen. Don’t stress, just be prepared.

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