Parents & Patients


The Choking Child


Knowing what to do with a choking child can be the difference between life and death.


The steps that you need to take are shown in the diagram on the right.


The first step is to determine if the child has an effective cough or not, ie is it likely that they will be able to clear the obstruction by themselves?


If an effective cough is absent but they are conscious, you should deliver 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts as shown in the pictures below.


If the child is unconscious you should proceed to opening the airway and delivering CPR as per the section on basic life support which can be accessed using the following link: Resuscitating a child


How to deliver a back blow

The hand should deliver a firm sharp blow between the shoulder blades to try and dislodge the obstruction.

How to deliver an abdominal thrust


One hand should cup the other which is held in a fist. The hands are placed in the area just below the breast bone (strenum) and a short sharp upward movement should be delivered to try and force the obstruction out. This manoeuvre is also called the Heimlich manoeuvre and is only to be used in children over 1 year of age.


  • Author
  • Review date

Dr Tim Ubhi BSc(Hons) MB ChB MRCP FRCPCH

July 2019