One of the most common causes of both injury and death for children who are under one year of age is choking. This is because, in part, the tiny airway in a baby can easily become obstructed when an object is lodged. Add to that the fact that babies are still trying to master the art of chewing and swallowing their food, and the danger is even more apparent. Many babies can’t yet cough hard enough to dislodge something that’s obstructing their airway, either. In addition to all of that we know how much babies like to put just about anything and everything into their mouths.

There are some health conditions that may make your baby more likely to choke, too. There are children, for example, that may have swallowing problems, developmental delays, a neuromuscular disorder or even traumatic brain injury that can increase the child’s risk of choking on a foreign object.

The most common object that obstructs an infant’s airway and causes choking is food. In addition to food, however, other small objects can certainly cause choking. Small parts from their toys, for example, can cause choking. Certain types of behavioral activities done while eating, such as eating while they are distracted by something else, can also contribute to choking.

Unfortunately, when a baby chokes it can be a very dangerous situation. Your baby can wind up not breathing altogether, and this can lead to brain damage or even death.

If you find that your baby chokes on something, start by holding her, facedown, on your forearm. From there you will firmly thump your baby on the middle of her back with the heel of your hand. Between gravity and your back blows, this should serve to release the object. If you’re worried about your baby’s breathing at any time you should call your local emergency services number.