My 1 year old son choked on food 3 times and I was only able to help him because of my prior CPR training.
I remember being in the training class at the hospital I used to work for. It was led by an older woman, an American Red Cross certified instructor, and had a maximum class capacity of 6 people. We each sat in front of a “dummy” that only had a torso and a head, and had to practice CPR on it. We also had baby doll dummies that we used to practice on in case we ever encountered a choking infant. At the time it felt silly, calling out the necessary commands like “Is there an AED nearby?” and “Someone call 911” while singing the tune of “Staying Alive” to the beats of the CPR pushes. I had no idea that 5 years later it would help me save my baby not once, but three times.
My son developed teeth later than most so I was always nervous he couldn’t chew his food properly.
Everyone says, “their gums are hard enough to chew food”, especially the Baby Led Weaning (BLW) experts out there, but I remained skeptical. This did prove to be true, however, my son was a squirrel. Meaning he would stuff his mouth and cheeks every chance he could and didn’t know how to pace himself. We were constantly taking food out of his mouth for fear of him choking. Then one summer day, he did it with chunks of watermelon while I wasn’t paying enough attention.
When a kid or baby chokes, it isn’t what you would think – coughing, gasping for air, etc. It is silent.
Dead silent. And they can’t tell you or help themselves. It is the loudest silence you could hear. You never realize the constant noises your kids make with chewing, laughing, babbling, touching things, and even breathing, until that moment when you hear none of it.
The moment I looked down and realized he wasn’t breathing, time began to move extremely slowly that it almost stood still.
I instinctively hit his back while he was sitting in front of me, quickly realized that wasn’t working, and somehow, from the depths of my memory, put him over my arm and began to perform blows to his back, then turning him back over to face me to see if the watermelon had been dislodged. It hadn’t, so I kept at it. I think it was only about 15 seconds in total, but it felt like 5 minutes. Finally, the piece loosened and I was able to pull it out of his mouth. That’s when I heard his cry. It was the best possible sound. If he was crying, he was breathing.
This happened two more times that year.
Once on a chip that I definitely shouldn’t have given him, and one other time when he was eating while he had RSV. The mucus in his throat trapped the food like glue, and CPR on it’s own couldn’t dislodge it. I performed the blows to his back but this time he was a little older, and his own efforts to cry and cough helped to dislodge the sticky mucus. Again, time stood still. That time I was close to running to the ER with him in my arms.
I share these experiences to encourage parents to learn CPR.
You never know when you will need to use it, or even just the basic skills of it, in your everyday life, especially while introducing solids to your children.
There are resources out there like The Mama Coach who provide CPR training as well as programs like Solid Starts who help educate about introducing solids.
Always talk to your pediatrician about your questions and concerns.
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To learn more about The Mama Coach, read, “The Mama Coach: Personalized Support Through Each Stage of Parenthood“.