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Choking

In Infants

Do you know why people don’t choke when they eat? Because when they were babies, they inhaled pureed carrots down the trachea (the windpipe) rather than the esophagus (the food pipe), and the discomfort stayed with them as a lesson well learned. Lucy has to make a few mistakes to learn to eat solid foods without incident. The first foods introduced are soft enough that a vigorous cough reflex can easily expel them; later, when the offending item is a larger, harder piece of food that can plug the airway, Lucy will know what to do. By eight months, most babies can handle chunkier foods.

If Lucy starts choking on solid food, give her a chance to cough it up. Use your finger to remove from her mouth only the food you can see, without digging. If choking persists, turn her upside down and tap on her back help her cough up the lump of food.

“CPR for Baby” classes feature various lifesaving techniques and are widely available. Why not take one?

In Children
The most hazardous foods tend to be smooth and round, which makes them easy to inhale when a child changes his breathing suddenly, like when he’s laughing. Have your doctor show you the Heimlich maneuver, a simple technique that could mean the world to you if you ever face this situation.