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First aiders change advice on helping choking babies

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Leading first aid charities are issuing new advice to parents on what to do if their baby chokes after research showed many have no idea what action to take.

St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross and St Andrew’s First Aid have agreed a change to the technique for dealing with babies under one who are choking.

Previously, the advice was to place infants along the parent’s arm face down, but this is now changing to placing the baby face down along the thigh.

Experts say this position offers much more support for the baby while the parent or carer administers blows to the baby’s back.

The change in advice, to be officially announced on 3 March, comes as a survey of 1,000 parents of under-fives found more a third (38%) have seen their child choke.

Half of these parents admitted they did not know the correct procedure for helping their child, or ways to clear the obstruction.

The poll found only 9% of parents would feel very confident administrating first aid if their child or another youngster started choking. Some 16% said they would not be confident at all.

Almost half (47%) of parents admitted avoiding giving their child certain foods for fear they might choke, and more than half disagreed with the statement “l let my child eat anything and don’t worry about it”.

The survey was released to mark the latest edition of the First Aid Manual, written and authorised by St John Ambulance, St Andrew’s First Aid and the British Red Cross.

Clive James, training officer at St John Ambulance, said: ‘If an infant is choking then, in the first instance, they should be laid face down along your thigh and supported by your arm, give them five back blows between the shoulder blades with your heel of your hand.

Clive James

Clive James

“Previously this was done along the arm but the leg is felt to be more secure and provide more support.

“Check their mouth for any obstruction. If there is still a blockage then turn the infant onto their back and give up to five chest thrusts.

“Use two fingers, push inwards and upwards against their breastbone. If the obstruction does not clear after three cycles of back blows and chest thrusts, call for an ambulance and continue until help arrives.

“This is one of the major changes covered in the new first aid manual. We recommend every household has one so they have information to hand in case of an emergency.”

Andrew New, speaking on behalf of all three charities, said: “Treating a child for choking is easy when you know how. The new manual contains the latest guidance on choking and other procedures and is a must for every home.”

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