When to do it: Your child is choking on an object and can't breathe (or can only make infrequent high-pitched gasps).
How to do it for infants under 1:
- Place her facedown on your forearm, supporting her neck and chin with your fingers. Tilt your hand so her head is lower than her chest.
- Give five quick blows to her back between her shoulder blades, using the heel of your free hand.
- If no object pops out, turn your baby over and place her faceup on a table or the floor.
- Place two fingers in the middle of her breastbone just below nipple level and give five quick thrusts.
- Repeat the cycle of five back blows and five chest thrusts until the object is dislodged or she begins breathing.
- If your baby becomes unconscious, begin CPR immediately. Each time you go to deliver rescue breaths, look for an object in her mouth. If you see something, take it out. But never put your fingers into her throat to feel for an object; you could lodge it more firmly.
How to do it for kids older than 1:
- Stand or kneel behind your kid, wrapping your arms around him.
- Make a fist and place it just above his belly button.
- Grasp your fist with your other hand and give quick upward thrusts.
- Deliver thrusts until the object is dislodged or he begins breathing.
- If your child passes out, begin CPR immediately. Each time you go to deliver rescue breaths, look for an object in his mouth. If you see something, take it out. But never attempt to put your fingers into your child's throat to feel for the object; doing so could lodge the item more firmly in his airway.
What to Remember:
Even if you successfully perform the Heimlich, you still need to call 911, says Nicholas Tsarouhas, M.D., associate medical director of the emergency department at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Always have your child evaluated after any near-choking incident."