The paediatrics society lists these among the most common offenders: coins, buttons, marbles, small balls, deflated balloons, watch batteries, jewelry, pen caps, paper clips, arts and crafts supplies, small toys and detachable toy parts.
Toys and games that are safe for an older sibling may not be for a younger brother or sister. And while it may be hard to believe, some infants have choked on pacifiers.
It is critical to know what to do if a child appears to be choking. If the child can cough, speak or cry, the airway is not completely blocked. Encourage the child to cough, and if that fails to dislodge the object, call an ambulance. Caregivers should always have a cellphone on hand.
If a choking baby can make little or no sound, ask someone to call the ambulance. Place the baby face down over your arm with the head lower than the chest and support the baby’s head with your hand. Then give five quick blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of the other hand. If no object is dislodged, turn the baby face up on a firm surface, place two fingers in the middle of the breastbone just below the nipples and give five quick thrusts. Repeat this sequence until the baby begins breathing or help arrives. If breathing is not restored within a few minutes, begin CPR.
For a child over 1 who is choking, stand or kneel behind the child and wrap your arms around her. Make a fist and place it just above the navel. Grasp the fist with the other hand, and make quick upward thrusts with it. Repeat until the object is dislodged or the child begins breathing.
Jane E Brody