What to Do If Your Baby Chokes on Milk

Getting a fright from time to time is part of being a mom. But when facing problems such as a choking child, it is essential to stay calm.
What to Do If Your Baby Chokes on Milk

Last update: 11 May, 2018

One of the most frightening things is not knowing what to do if your baby chokes on milk. In this article, we’ll look at why this happens, and what to do if it does.

Becoming a mom for the first time opens up a whole new world of worries. Every cry from your little one puts you on high alert. A slight fever could be a sign of a serious illness.

As mothers, our responsibilities are infinite. We do our best as best we know how.

If it’s our first time, every feeling is more intense. But when something potentially dangerous happens, we must keep a cool head and react promptly.

Panic solves nothing. It can be very difficult to remain calm when something happens to your baby. But it’s vital to try, for our own good and theirs.

When the moment comes to act to prevent your baby from choking, fear can only get in the way. Be prepared for this situation, as a mother and a protector: know what to do if your baby chokes.

What to Do If Your Baby Chokes on Milk

What to do if your baby chokes on milk

Quickly, place your baby face down. Tap them on the back with the palm of your hand to trigger a cough.

It is very common for small babies to choke during feeds, particularly if they’re nursing in an incorrect position.

If your baby is choking on something solid, however, you’ll need to carry out the Heimlich manoeuvre.

If doing this doesn’t resolve the problem, call emergency services as quickly as possible. It’s important to keep all the relevant numbers in mind, just in case.

Don’t feel guilty if your baby chokes during a feed. It is something that can happen to anyone – adults too! How many times has a glass of water gone down the wrong way?

Why does my baby choke during feeds?

Choking can be due to multiple factors. Some of them are things that we can change, while others have to do with their tiny, newly formed body.

If you notice that it is happening frequently, speak to the child’s pediatrician. This medical professional will be able to tell you what to do.

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one”

-Jill Churchill-

When the problem is external

It may be that the flow of breast milk is too strong. When your baby latches on, milk flows directly into their throat.

You can solve this by putting pressure on the nipple or by pumping a little milk just before you breastfeed.

If your baby is feeding from a bottle, the liquid may be flowing too fast. Newborn babies aren’t capable of dealing with this on their own.

But this problem can be solved, if you give it the time and patience necessary.

What to Do If Your Baby Chokes on Milk

When the problem is internal

Some babies have internal conditions that affect their ability to swallow or cause gastroesophageal reflux (meaning that the contents of the stomach come back up to the mouth).

To check whether the problem is internal and not related to feeding problems, speak to a medical specialist.

To reduce the risk of choking, try putting your baby down on their belly. Even better, don’t let your baby sleep lying down after a feed, but keep them in a vertical position.

This means that if reflux occurs, your baby is able to cough or vomit and is not at risk of choking.

Similarly, never leave your baby drinking from a bottle unattended. Wait until they’re older to be sure there is no risk of choking.

Try to keep their crib in your room, at least for the first 6 or 7 months. This way, you’ll be there to monitor your baby.

Choking is not rare during early infancy. Speak to any mother and you’ll find out: this situation is much more common than you think!

Babies are very vulnerable creatures, and they need your help to learn how to get around.

Don’t let this overwhelm you. In no time at all, your child will be able to eat and drink without your help, and you’ll no longer be afraid of something happening to them.

Until then, stay alert. Keep these tips about what to do if your baby chokes in mind to avoid an unnecessary scare.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Quintero Fleites EJ, Roque Peña P, de la Mella Quintero SF, Fong Zurbano G. Posiciones correctas y un buen agarre al amamantar: clave del éxito en la lactancia materna. Medicentro (Villa Cl) [Internet]. 2014 [citado el 20 de febrero de 2022];18(4):156-62. Disponible en: http://scielo.sld.cu/scielo.php?pid=S1029-30432014000400003&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.