Avoiding Airway Obstruction in Infants

How can you make your home a safer place for your infant and take steps to avoiding airway obstruction?

  • Check toys to make sure they’re age appropriate and don’t have small parts that could be swallowed by an infant.
  • Check toys regularly for damage
  • Avoid using infant seats, car seats, strollers, carriers, or swings for regular naps and beds.  These things could put infants in a position where their heads could fall leading to airway obstruction.
  • Avoid any loose bedding, pillows, or soft objects in the crib or bassinet.
  • Avoid over bundling, overdressing or covering an infant’s face or head.
  • Avoid using wedges or other positioners for sleeping
  • Avoid sharing your bed with your infant; they are less likely to suffocate in a crib or bassinet.
  • Use a firm mattress for infant, anything to soft like a couch should not be used as a bed an infant.
  • Place infants on their backs to sleep.
  • Immunizing infants and breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Always supervise young children while they’re eating.
  • Avoid small food that could be a choking hazard for infants such as, popcorn, marshmallows, hard candy, chewing gum, raw carrots and apples to name a few.

Should an infant’s airway become obstructed act quickly.  If the child is coughing, allow the child to cough and monitor.  If coughing becomes ineffective assess the child’s conscious level.


For infants under 1:

  • If the child is conscience give up to five back blows followed by five chest thrusts.  In a seated position, support the infant at the jaw and tip them in a head-downwards position to let gravity aid in removing the object.
  • Deliver 5 sharp blows with the heel of your hand to the middle of the back (in-between the shoulder blades)
  • Check to see if the item has been dislodged, if not continue the blows up to 5 times.
  • After 5 unsuccessful blows begin chest thrusts. Support the infant in a head-down, face up position. Deliver five thrusts; these are similar to CPR chests thrusts but slower and sharper.
  • If child becomes unconscious lay the child down and look for the object in their mouth, if you can see it and remove it try to do so with the sweep of your finger.
  • If again unsuccessful begin CPR

For more information on airway obstruction visit our website or take a CPR class.  We offer infant and child CPR classes in Knoxville & Maryville!  Sign up for the American Heart Association (AHA) Heartsaver CPR class today!