Choking is extremely common and very frightening, but rarely fatal. Young children can choke on anything small enough to fit through a loo roll. To prevent choking, keep small objects out of reach, cut food into very small pieces and always supervise children when eating.

Choking is life-threatening when a child is unable to speak or cry and struggling to breathe.

What to do if a Child is Choking 

What to Do

  1. Remain calm and encourage them to to clear it themselves by coughing.
  2. Perform up to 5 back blows, checking between each to see if the blockage has cleared before repeating.
  3. If the obstruction hasn’t cleared after 5 back blows, phone 999 or get someone else to and start abdominal thrusts.

Back Blows

What to do if a Child is Choking 

Bend the child forward and support their chest. With the other hand give a firm back blow between the shoulder blades.

Abdominal Thrusts

What to do if a Child is Choking 

To do this, stand behind the child and place one hand in a fist under their rib cage. Use the other hand to pull up and under the ribs in a J-shaped motion to dislodge the obstruction. Perform abdominal thrusts up to 5 times, checking each time to see if the obstruction has cleared.

Keep alternating five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until emergency help arrives. If at any point the child becomes unconscious, commence CPR.

What to do if a Child is Choking 


Anyone who has received abdominal thrusts should be seen by a doctor.

Never perform abdominal thrusts on a baby, read our blog post on helping a choking baby here.


Take our free choking course on Online First Aid – no bank details necessary!

It is strongly advised that you attend a practical first aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses. First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.