I'm an ex-paramedic – here's why you must NEVER give your child back blows if they're gagging | The Sun

IT'S every parent's worst nightmare to see their little one choke.

But sometimes, what you believe is choking might actually be something else.

An ex-paramedic from the Tiny Hearts Education has urged parents learn the difference between gagging and choking.

Although the two reflexes appear outwardly similar, they serve different purposes.

In a video of a child gagging posted to Instagram, the expert said: "Gagging is a normal protective reflex which protects food from going back to the airway.

"A gagging child is not a chocking child."

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Choking happens when someone's airway suddenly gets blocked, either fully or partly, so they can't breathe or breathe properly.

Treating gagging like you would choking, with repeated back blows, can actually be worse for causing food to move further down and lodge into the airways.

Writing in the video caption, the experts added: "Remember if retching, crying or has a cough – keep hands off.

"If silent, panicked and unable to yelp – it’s time to help!"

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If you're little one is choking, first aiders at St John Ambulance give the following advice based on the child’s age.


  1. Slap it out:
  • Lay the baby face down along your thigh and support their head  
  • Give five back blows between their shoulder blades  
  • Turn them over and check their mouth each time  

2. Squeeze it out:

  • Turn the baby over, face upwards, supported along your thigh 
  • Put two fingers in the centre of their chest just below the nipple line; push downwards to give up to five sharp chest thrusts 
  • Check the mouth each time  

3. If the item does not dislodge, call 999 or 112 for emergency help  

  • Take the baby with you to call  
  • Repeat the steps 1 and 2 until help arrives 
  • Start CPR if the baby becomes unresponsive (unconscious)  


1. Cough it out  

  • Encourage the casualty to keep coughing, if they can 

2. Slap it out  

  • Lean them forwards, supporting them with one hand 
  • Give five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades 
  • Check their mouth each time but do not put your fingers in their mouth  

3. Squeeze it out  

  • Stand behind them with your arms around their waist, with one clenched fist between their belly button and the bottom of their chest 
  • Grasp the fist in the other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards, giving up to five abdominal thrusts 
  • Check their mouth each time  

4. Call 999 or 112 for emergency help if the object does not dislodge  

  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 until help arrives 
  • Start CPR if the person becomes unresponsive (unconscious) 

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5. Always seek medical advice if abdominal thrusts are used 

All kids are at risk of choking – especially those under the age of three.

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