Paramedic shares why you should never put your fingers in a baby's mouth if they're choking

Knowing what to do when a child chokes can save their life.
Knowing what to do when a child chokes can save their life.
Getty Images/LWA-Dann Tardif
  • An Australian paramedic has shared on TikTok why you should never put your fingers in a child’s mouth when they’re choking.
  • In the video, she uses a transparent tube and tomato to demonstrate her point.
  • She also provides the solution on what to do in that situation.

Babies are curious, so it’s common for them to pop objects into their mouths. In fact, ‘mouthing’ is a normal part of their development and can even be beneficial for their health, notes Healthline. Unfortunately, they are also more at risk than adults of choking since their airways are smaller.

A child choking is often a life-threatening situation that can be distressing and cause you to panic. In that moment, you have just a few minutes to take the right action to save their life.

READ MORE | ‘It’s breaking my heart’: Mpumalanga baby on a ventilator after choking on biltong

So what do you do?

According to one paramedic, you should never put your fingers in a choking child’s throat.

Using a transparent tube and a tomato to demonstrate why this is a bad idea, Australian paramedic Nikki Jurcutz on TikTok explains: 

“This tube is the size of a child’s airway. If your little one has a complete obstruction, no air can get in or out. Getting it out with your fingers could push it down further.”

The video has also been shared on Instagram.

What to do instead

Jurcutz, who is also the CEO of the parenting organisation Tiny Hearts Education, advises people to focus on using the palm of their hand to do just a few taps on the tube - these ‘back blows’ and ‘chest thrusts’ will remove any blockages from a child’s throat.

“Back blows and chest thrusts are your only option and are very effective when done correctly,” she says.

The British Red Cross also cautions against holding a child upside down by their feet if they're choking, as tipping them upside down may move the object further down their throat and could also cause further injury if you happen to drop them. 

READ MORE | Take the pain out of teething - here's how you can soothe your baby's sore gums

The 22-second educational video on TikTok has already garnered more than 3.1 million views, nearly 1 000 comments and more than 7 500 shares as of 3 October.

One viewer commented: “For the first time, I’ve clearly understood the manoeuvre required, due to this brilliant demo. Thank you,” while another said: “The visual is amazing. I have three kids and them choking is a big fear of mine!”

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