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Choking Advice from a Pediatric Trauma Nurse

Little Birdies Blog Post:  Choking Advice from a Pediatric Trauma Nurse, Shannon Tripp
It was almost two years ago that my baby choked and changed the course of my life. We were finishing up dinner at a restaurant. I strapped him into his carseat, and went around the table to give hugs and say our goodbyes to my family. While I was doing that, my sweet toddler decided she wanted to share a piece of peppermint candy with my 9-month-old son, Jack.
My older daughter tapped me on the leg to get my attention and I said, “Mommy! Mommy! Jack is choking!” I turned around to see him buckled in his carseat, his face bright red, filled with fear, and unable to breathe. I quickly got him out of his carseat and immediately turned on “ nurse mode.”
With the entire restaurant’s staff and guests’ eyes on us, I began giving him several back blows. After what seemed like an eternity, but was closer to 45 seconds, the mint candy flew out onto the floor and Jack gasped for air! With tears running down my cheek, I held my baby, watched his face regain color, and heard him BREATHE.
In that moment, as grateful as I was to hear him breathe, I couldn’t help but think, “What about all the other moms who don’t know how to help their choking baby?”
As a pediatric trauma nurse, I have been trained to respond to this. To act quickly. To remain calm. But after this experience, I came to the realization that there are so many parents who don’t feel empowered to take action in a choking situation . That night, I went home and filmed a simple video demonstrating back blows and chest thrusts when an infant chokes. I shared on my Instagram and since then we’ve reached millions of moms with this education.
While I pray and hope it doesn’t happen to you, I want to encourage you to learn and equip yourself with the power to potentially save a life.


How to Help a Child who is Choking


If your baby is between 0-12 months old:

  1. Support the baby’s head and neck with your arm and leg.
  2. Tip them down with their head facing the ground below their torso.
  3. Give 5 firm back blows with the heel of your hand right between their shoulder blades.
  4. If the object is still lodged in their throat, call 911 for help. Do not leave the baby.
  5. Flip the baby over on their back, supporting their head and neck.
  6. Give 5 chest thrusts with two fingers in between their nipple line.
  7. Flip them back over supporting their head and neck and repeat this sequence.

Click here to see a video demonstration.


If your baby is 12+ months old: 

  1. You can encourage your child to cough, but do not offer a drink.
  2. If the child is small enough to bend over your leg so they are leaning forward (this is important), perform 5 firm back blows with the heel of your hand directly between their shoulder blades.
  3. If that was unsuccessful, call for help or 911 and try the Heimlich Maneuver.
  4. Kneel or stand behind the child so their torso is supported firmly against your torso while they lean a bit forward.
  5. Reach your arms around them and place the flat part of your fist between the lower part of their ribs and their belly button.
  6. Cup your other hand over your fist and perform a quick and upright motion. With these motions, you are forcing a burst of air from the lungs to the trachea in an attempt to dislodge the object.
  7. Repeat these quick upright motions until help arrives.

Click here to see a video demonstration.


Tips for Preventing Choking


  1. Eliminate choking hazards. Remove and clean up small objects or toys in places where there may be independent play. A good rule of thumb: if it fits through a toilet paper or paper towel tube, it’s too small.
  2. Encourage children to sit while they eat. Running or playing with food in their mouth greatly increases the likelihood of choking.
  3. Be mindful of the type of foods fed to children. Foods that children may struggle with include: chunks of meat or cheese, whole grapes, carrots, pretzels, and other snack foods.


Over the years, I have received thousands of messages from moms who have literally saved their child’s life. With every message I read, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel so blessed to be able to put this information into the world and see so many moms confidently care for their children. That is my wish is for every parent -- to feel confident in the way they care for the special little people in their lives. This is why I have felt so fulfilled as I dedicate myself to sharing my medical knowledge combined with my experience of a mom to four young children. If you want to continue to learn, I provide so much free educational resources here to help you keep your kiddos safe and healthy. From a basic cold and fevers to head injuries and burns, I want YOU to feel confident caring for your babies. And always remember how much you mean to your children. You are their world and you have inside of you what it takes to be there in time of need.



Shannon Tripp

About Shannon

Shannon Tripp, RN BSN is a mom of four children and an experienced Pediatric ER Nurse. Shannon has taken her passion for motherhood and combined it with her medical training to create an online platform that both educates and inspires mothers around the world. Shannon provides a unique perspective between the need for modern medicine balanced with natural alternatives. Shannon is a Utah native currently living her surf dreams in Hawaii with her family. 
Shannon actively shares her lifestyle and education on Instagram with a very engaged community of women and mothers. Shannon also offers an online medical emergency course for moms on her website. Shannon promotes brands through these channels and intentionally partners with brands whose products are in alignment with her focus on motherhood, family, health and fitness, natural living, and adventure!
Shannon Tripp and family
Shannon Tripp









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