First aid treatment for choking children

The importance of first aid training for choking children

Every parent, caregiver, and educator is responsible for ensuring children's safety in their care. One critical aspect of child safety is knowing how to respond to emergencies, particularly those involving choking effectively. Choking is a leading cause of injury and death among children, especially those under the age of four. In this blog, Rose explores essential first aid techniques for choking children, backed by key statistics, relevant legislation, and best practices.

The significance of first aid knowledge for choking

Choking is a silent hazard that does not discriminate, often occurring from everyday activities such as eating and playing. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), small children are particularly at risk due to their tendency to put objects in their mouths, highlighting the critical need for immediate and effective first aid responses.

Understanding choking

Choking occurs when a foreign object lodges in the throat or windpipe, blocking the flow of air. For children, this can include food, toys, and small household items. Recognising the signs of choking is paramount in administering aid. These signs can include:

  • Inability to talk, cry, or make noise
  • Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
  • Sudden coughing that doesn't clear the airway
  • Skin, lips, and nails turning blue or dusky
  • Loss of consciousness if the blockage is not cleared

Legislation and best practices

In the UK, childcare providers are governed by stringent regulations under bodies such as Ofsted and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). These regulations mandate that caregivers are trained in paediatric first aid, which includes responsive measures for choking. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also outlines guidelines for first aid in educational settings, emphasising the importance of training and awareness.

Step-by-step guide to managing choking

For mild choking

  • Encourage coughing - If the child is still able to breathe, speak, or cough, encourage them to continue coughing to dislodge the object.
  • Stay close - Monitor them closely and prepare to act if the severity increases.

For severe choking

  • Back blows
  • Place the child slightly forward and give up to five sharp blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
  • Abdominal thrusts
  • If back blows do not dislodge the object, perform abdominal thrusts.
  • Stand or kneel behind the child, wrap your arms around their waist, and place a fist between their ribs and navel.
  • Grasp your fist with the other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
  • Call for emergency help
  • If the object does not dislodge after three cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts, call for emergency help immediately.

Recommendations for prevention

  • Supervise meals - Always supervise children while eating and encourage them to chew food thoroughly.
  • Education on safe toys - Educate on the importance of age-appropriate toys to prevent small parts from becoming choking hazards.
  • Regular first aid training - Encourage regular first aid training for parents, caregivers, and educators.


Understanding and applying first aid techniques for choking can be the difference between life and death. The skills to act promptly and effectively in a choking incident are invaluable, and we at The Mandatory Training Group are committed to providing comprehensive training that empowers individuals to handle such emergencies confidently.

Click here to explore our first aid online courses and qualifications to ensure you have the skills needed to save lives. Enrol today and be the safeguard in every child’s life.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

The importance of first aid training for choking children - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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