Suffocation of the newborn, how to behave

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What to do if you notice that the baby is having difficulty breathing or even no longer breathing? It is indeed possible to find ourselves in front of a case of suffocation of the newborn, or better than obstruction of the airways, if the child has inhaled a small object or a bite of food or candy has gone wrong. 

Let's see what should be done in these cases. 

In this article

  • Symptoms of obstruction in the airways of the newborn
  • Infant suffocation, things not to do absolutely 
  • Infant suffocation, partial obstruction
  • Newborn suffocation, total obstruction 
Also read: When to take your baby to the emergency room

Newborn, signs of severe airway obstruction

The signs of severe airway obstruction in a child under one year are: cyanosis, retractions, inability to cry and to make many sounds, weak and ineffective cough, stridor.

Choking in a baby is caused by a small object they put in their mouth (food, toy, coin, etc.). If the airway obstruction is severe, interscapular blows and thrusts to the chest should be done to remove the object. Read also: Children and the risk of suffocation, 4 tips to prevent

Infant suffocation, things not to do absolutely

  • Never intervene if the baby is able to cry and make meaningful sounds, cough effectively, or breathe adequately. This means that he does not have severe airway obstruction, but rather partial. Additionally, remember that strong coughing and crying can help push the object out of the airways.
  • There is no need to give interscapular blows or thrusts to the chest if the child stops breathing for reasons other than an obstruction in the airways (in case of asthma, infection, swelling or head trauma).
Read also: Children: seizures during fever, what to do

Infant suffocation, partial obstruction

The inhaled object it does not completely obstruct the airways, whereby air passes and the child can breathe (sometimes noisily), cough, cry.

In this case, one simply has to encourage the baby to cough, staying in the position he prefers. This is the best solution, and often the child can free himself without consequences for his health.

Warning: if the obstruction is partial, the maneuver to clear the airways MUST NOT BE DONE. If, despite the coughing, the situation does not unblock, alert 118.

Read also: Head trauma, what to do if the baby hits his head

Newborn suffocation, total obstruction

There is no air and the baby cannot breathe, cough, cry or speak and, moreover, puts his hands around his neck and changes color? In this case, if the child under one year of age is conscious, it is necessary to implement the anti-suffocation maneuver.

Tell someone about call 118 as you begin first aid procedures. If you are alone, ask for help and start first aid.

  • Hold the baby face down along the forearm using the thigh or womb for support. Hold the baby's chest in your hand and open the jaw by pulling the jaw with your fingers. Orient the baby's head down and lower than the body.
  • Give up to 5 quick and powerful blows between baby u's shoulder bladessando the palm of your free hand.
  • Check your mouth to see if the aspirated foreign body is visible; if it can be removed easily, remove it.
  • If the object does not exit the airway after 5 interscapular blows, turn the baby face up.
  • Hold the baby face up along the forearm using our thigh or womb for support. Hold your head with your hand with your head lower than your torso.
  • Place 2 fingers in the center of the baby's breastbone just below the nipples. Avoid the lower ribs or the tip of the breastbone.
  • Give up to 5 quick thrusts, squeezing the chest about one-third to one-half the depth of the chest, usually 1,5 to 4 cm for each push.
  • Continue to give 5 interscapular blows followed by 5 chest thrusts until the object is moved or the child becomes unconscious.
  • Do not try to grab and pull the object out if the child is conscious.
  • If the child is unresponsive (unconscious), shout for help (if you are alone) and start there infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation. If you do not know how to carry out cardiopulmonary resuscitation, rely on a 118 operator.
  • If the child is unconscious and you can see the object blocking the airway, you can try to remove it with your finger. Try to remove the object only if you can see it.
Read also: Risk of drowning: NEVER leave children alone in the water


  • choking child
  • pediatric unblocking
  • suffocation
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