How can parents prevent choking in babies and young kids?

The fear of choking is real for most parents, especially those who are introducing solid food to their little babies. As a mom, this fear keeps haunting me over and over again, so much so that I try to limit my baby’s movements while he’s on his high chair eating.

I mean, little toddlers like mine get excited about everything. If his sister started chasing him, he would immediately react and run to escape from her, and that’s where it gets dangerous.

This is scary and confusing!

I know I’m not the only mom out there who gets haunted by those frightening thoughts, which is why I asked the team at Caduceus Medical to answer some of the most common questions related to choking by babies and young kids.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, Caduceus Medial. 


At which stage in the baby’s development should parents worry about choking?

When babies start weaning, the risk of choking increases because they are moving from sucking to swallowing. It takes time for them to learn how to do this. Gagging and coughing is a normal part of this process and doesn’t necessarily mean they are choking. 

Why are babies so vulnerable to choking?

The vulnerability comes mainly due to their inability to cough effectively, and lack of experience chewing. Babies have no concept of food volume and will put lots into their mouth at the same time, which can block their small air passages.

What are the most common causes of young kids choking?

Certain food types, particularly spherical-shaped foods such as grapes, raisins, peanuts, and jelly beans are frequent causes. Small toys, beads, coins, and similar items – basically anything with smooth edges – can easily block a child’s small air passages. Also, be aware of dried fruits that can swell when they become moist. 

What should parents immediately do when their child chokes? 

Quickly assess if they are coughing effectively and note their color and breathing pattern. If they are very pale or have a grey or blue color, if they are showing signs of drooling, if they have irregular breathing, or if their regular noises are reduced, they may be choking. For babies (less than 1 year old) put them over your knee, head down, and slap their back between the shoulder blades up to 5 times. If unresolved, turn them over and push their chest (chest thrusts) with 2 fingers, just below the nipple line.

For children older than 1 year, stand behind the child and encircle their tummy with your arms. Then place your fist between the belly button and breastbone and pull in and up (abdominal thrusts).

Call an ambulance immediately for any baby or child that requires chest or abdominal thrusts. 


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What emergency numbers should parents in Dubai contact in the event their child chokes?

The generic emergency number is 999, and parents should request an ambulance, clearly stating the emergency and as much information about location including any distinct nearby landmarks

What are the best tips to prevent babies and young kids from choking?

Always supervise babies and children while they are eating. Cut food to an appropriate size. For example, cut grapes lengthways rather than across the middle to reduce the diameter. Check the surrounding area where your children are crawling or playing. Remove all potential choking hazards from the area, including small toys, tissues, coins, etc.

How about when babies cough really hard after choking, but seem to be handling the situation on their own — should parents get involved?

If the baby is coughing effectively, let them clear the obstruction themselves without intervening. Babies don’t usually have a loud cough so look at their color. If they have changed color from red to pale, it’s time to intervene.

Can parents in Dubai be trained in order to avoid this type of situation in the future?

Yes, there are many first aid companies that offer training in the prevention of and management of choking

Are there any choking guidelines parents should know about?

Yes, there are three important guidelines. If the child is coughing effectively, do not intervene. Do not raise the child’s arms above his or her head, as this can worsen the situation. Do not put your fingers in the child’s mouth to remove an obstruction – the funnel shape of their airway means you can inadvertently push the blockage further back, causing complete obstruction and worsening the situation.


About the author

Caduceus Medical is a Dubai based First Aid Training Company. We provide training to both healthcare professionals and non-healthcare professionals. We offer bespoke training for parents, nannies, and maids, either at home or in our training centre.

All our instructors are registered professionals including nurses, midwives and paramedics. Each with more than 20 years experience working in either the UK or South Africa.

For enquiries please contact us at training@dubaifirstaid.com or call 045547056

For more details please our website www.dubaifirstaid.com


About Confidential Mommy Talks

Mom Blogger | A little obsessed with gossiping about my kids. I blog abut the fun side of parenting: milestones, tantrums and the lack of communication!