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According to our Mums, choking is their no. 1 concern when starting to wean.

Posted on 21. February 2017 by adminaris


We recently asked over 6,000 parents about the various standout moments in their little one’s development.  When we asked about weaning, choking was the number 1 concern.  So we asked St John Ambulance if they could give our parents some guidance on this topic.  Here’s what they said:

Introducing your baby to solid foods can feel scary. At St John Ambulance, we’re often asked by parents what to do if their baby starts choking during mealtimes, because four out of five admit to not knowing.* No wonder Hipp Organic’s recent survey has found that choking during the weaning stage is the biggest concern for mums and dads.


The transition from liquid to solid meals is a period which can pose a real risk, however it need not be frightening. As with almost every emergency, the best way you can prepare is to know what to do in the worst case scenario. 


As a parent, it feels like there are so many tips to juggle. Luckily, a few simple pointers can ensure a smooth transition from liquids to mushy food. Before all else, the biggest step is ensuring your baby is ready for the change. After a six month period, you should notice that:


·       Your baby can sit upright, holding their head steady

·       They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth to look at and pick up/swallow food


When you choose to start weaning your baby, there are many informative articles to help you through the process. It’s vital to stay present while your child eats, even if he or she has been weaning for months without any problems. This could be the difference between spotting a life-threatening incident and remaining ignorant until it’s too late.


When a baby chokes, they may become distressed, have noisy breathing, or be unable to cry or cough. If food blocks your baby’s airways, it is vital to act fast remembering these four steps – you can also watch this video:


1.     Slap it out. Sit down and lay them face down along your thigh supporting their head. Supporting the baby's head, give up to five sharp blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand

2.     Check their mouth for obstructions. If you can, pick the object out carefully with your fingertips without pushing it further in

3.     Squeeze it out. If the back blows fail to clear the blockage, give up to five chest thrusts: With the baby laid face up along the length of your thigh, put two fingers just below the level of their nipples and push inwards and downwards, towards the baby's head up to five times.
Keep checking the mouth for obstructions and repeat back blows and chest thrusts up to three times, until you've dislodged what's stopping their breathing.

4.     Call for help. If they're still choking, call 999 or 112. Continue steps 2 and 3 until what’s in there has cleared, help arrives, or they become conscious.


For more advice or to attend a St John Ambulance baby first aid course, designed for parents, carers, and parents-to-be for £25 + VAT go to


*Research carried out in November 2014 by Opinion Matters on behalf of St John Ambulance. 4,000 parents in England surveyed.


By Clive James, St John Ambulance Training Officer

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