If your child starts coughing all of a sudden and is not ill, there's a good chance that they're choking.
Emergency action required: Call 112 or 999 immediately if:
- your child is not conscious or is unresponsive
Ask for an ambulance.
If you talk to them and they are unable to breathe, cry, talk or cough, they may be choking.
If your child is conscious but they are not coughing effectively, you'll need to deliver first aid.
Step 1 - cough it out
If your child is coughing effectively, encourage them to cough.
If that does not work, you may need to try slap it out.
Step 2 - slap it out
Stand behind your child. Support them in a forward-leaning position.
Give up to 5 blows to the back between the shoulder blades.
If this does not dislodge the object, you will need to try and squeeze the object out.
Step 3 - squeeze it out
Stand or kneel behind the child.
Give 5 abdominal thrusts (this is called the Heimlich manoeuvre).
Clench your fist and place it between the belly button and the ribs.
Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
Do not apply pressure to the ribs as this may cause damage.
Emergency action required: Call 112 or 999 if:
- your child is still choking
- you have not already called
Step 4 - call 112 or 999
Keep doing 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts. Do this until the object pops out, the ambulance arrives or your child is unresponsive.
If your child is unresponsive, you will need to begin CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation).
The emergency phone operator will also guide you through how to give CPR.
If you see the object during PCR, remove it with your fingers. Do not place your fingers into your child's mouth if you cannot see the object.
If the object does come out, you should still get medical help afterwards. This is in case part of the object remains or your child has had an injury during the procedure.
First aid apps
The St John Ambulance Ireland App is a free app for your phone.
First aid training
Training in how to give basic first aid to babies and children is available.
Organisations that offer this include:
The Irish Heart Foundation offers certified training in CPR.