What to Do if Your Baby Chokes on Milk

August 13, 2018

When you’re a mom, one of the most difficult experiences to face is when you don’t know what to do if your baby chokes on milk, either from the breast or from the bottle. Asphyxia is not uncommon during early childhood and is a more frequent occurrence than you might imagine.

Being a first-time mother means facing many new things regarding the care and protection of your child. At this time, it’s important to be aware of potentially dangerous situations that may affect the health of both mother and child.

For new mothers, we must maintain a calm attitude and react promptly if the baby chokes on milk. Panicking will not help at all. It could even hinder the solution, putting the health of your child at risk.

What is the procedure if a baby chokes on milk?

In addition to trying to remain calm at all times, here are some tips that can be followed:

  • Immediately place the child face down on your legs.
  • Give soft but firm touches with the palm of your hand on the baby’s back to cause him to cough.
  • This should be enough, since the induced cough will clear the airways.

However, the child could be choking on something solid. In these cases, parents can use what is called the Heimlich Maneuver. It is important to note that this procedure can only be done with children older than 12 months.

What to Do if Your Baby Chokes on Milk

Heimlich maneuver

  • To perform this familiar maneuver, you must sit down and wrap your arms around the child.
  • Put your hands on the solar plexus, or over the stomach.
  • Then, with one hand on top of the other, exert pressure.
  • The pressure exerted between the thorax and the navel will bring out the object or piece of food that was blocking the airways.

Other techniques

  • Lay the child face up on the floor or hard surface.
  • Place your hands on top of each other on the area between the sternum and the navel.
  • Press toward the chest with five compressions.

If doing this doesn’t solve the problem, you should call the emergency services as quickly as possible. It is important to have all the relevant numbers in an accessible place. Memory is extremely likely to fail in these situations.

If the baby chokes on milk, the first thing to do is place him upside down immediately on your legs and give soft but firm touches with the palm of your hand on his back.

Causes of choking

Choking can be due to multiple factors. Some of them are things we can prevent, while others have to do with your little one’s newly formed body.

If you notice that your baby is suffocating frequently, it’s best to talk with the pediatrician. He or she will decide what should be done.

External factors that could cause your baby to choke on milk

When the child is breastfed, the milk flows directly to his throat. It is possible that the flow of breast milk is too strong. This situation can be resolved by pressing on the nipple or pumping a little milk just before breastfeeding.

Correct breastfeeding prevents the baby from choking on milk. It is vital to ensure the correct attachment of the child to the mother’s nipple. The mother should make sure that the child’s stomach faces her stomach, while the baby’s nose should face the nipple. This position will allow the child to nurse well.

If, on the other hand, the child is bottle-feeding, the fluid may flow too fast. Very young children aren’t able to adapt to this by themselves, but this situation is solved with patience.

Internal factors

Some children may have internal conditions that affect their ability to swallow or that may cause gastroesophageal reflux; that is, the content of the stomach returns to the mouth.

To verify if the problem is internal and not related to feeding problems, you have to talk to a medical specialist.

What to Do if Your Baby Chokes on Milk

Reducing the risk of choking in babies

In a short time, your baby will be able to eat and drink without your help. But in the meantime, it is advisable to follow these tips on what to do if your baby chokes on milk:

  • Don’t let your baby lie down after feeding him. Keep him upright. In the event that reflux occurs, the child can cough or vomit without risk.
  • It is necessary to prevent the child from using the bottle without supervision.
  • Keep the child’s crib near you for at least the first six or seven months.

With these simple recommendations, we can reduce the risk of this incident in babies. Regardless, if you notice more serious problems, such as the reflux mentioned above, don’t hesitate to consult a professional as soon as possible.