What You Need To Do When Your Baby Chokes On Saliva

Infants who are at their first few months have very small and fragile airways. This is why it’s very easy for something to get lodged into the baby’s airway and block the flow of oxygen.

Though food maybe the first thing that comes into your mind when asked about the causes of choking, another thing that is a frequent cause of choking in babies is saliva.

Now you may be wondering why babies would choke on saliva if it’s a liquid that’s pretty easy to swallow, but choking on saliva is actually a pretty common thing for babies since a lot of babies still haven’t developed the skills to effectively swallow an ample amount of saliva.

Then there are also other factors such as respiratory illnesses, sleeping disorders, and reflexes. If you want to know more about choking in babies and what you should do if you ever find your baby choking on saliva, simply read on.

This article will contain all sorts of information such as the causes, prevention, solutions, and a step by step procedure on how to perform CPR on your baby if any emergency situations where your baby’s airways are blocked arises.


What Causes Choking In Babies?

There are several things that can cause babies to choke aside from chunky pieces of food that they can’t swallow yet.

Here are the three most common causes of choking in babies:

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a sleeping condition that causes a person to have difficulty breathing during sleep because of swollen tonsils that completely blocks the airways.

Babies who suffer from sleep apnea tend to be at higher risk of choking on their saliva. Since the tonsils are swollen, your baby will have a harder time swallowing his saliva, therefore making it easy for the saliva to pass through the airways.

To find out if your child suffer from sleep apnea, you may want to look for signs such as inconsistent breathing patterns, breathing pauses that last up to 20 seconds, and a slow heartbeat.​

Gastroesophageal Reflux

Another common reason for babies to choke on their saliva is Gastroesophageal Reflux. Infant Reflux is caused by a weakened esophageal sphincter that fails at preventing the acid in the stomach from rising up the esophagus and into the throat and mouth.

Though infant reflux may sound like a completely frightening thing, you can rest easy knowing that it’s very normal to occur in babies who are less than a year of age. Once your baby has become a year old, he will significantly be at less risk of choking from reflux.​


The last most common cause for choking in babies is Asthma. Asthma is a respiratory condition where the lungs and airways get so inflamed that difficulty in breathing instantly arises.

Another thing that asthma does is that it increases the production of mucus, making your baby’s saliva thicker, harder to swallow, and easier to choke on.

To find out if your baby is suffering from asthma, try to look out for signs such as wheezing sounds while breathing, rapid breathing, and frequent choking on saliva.​

How To Tell If A Baby Is Choking

Reading how babies feel can be quite hard, especially if you are a new parent. You can easily become mislead by their facial expressions. This is why it’s important to know about the different cues your baby can give you to signal you that he or she is choking.

The most common signs of choking in a baby is a startled gaze. You may also notice redness or blueness in the face because your baby is running out of breathe. Other more subtle signs are small coughs and high-pitched sounds.

How To Prevent Choking In Babies

Though choking on saliva can be a bit difficult to prevent in toddlers since it’s practically natural, you can still prevent the occurrence of your baby choking on food.

One good rule of thumb to live by as a parent is that as long as your child is under three years of age, you should always see to it that your baby doesn’t get hold of anything that wouldn’t fit the inner tube of a toilet paper.

When it comes to food, always keep in mind that once your baby can eat solid food, you should always cut the food up to tiny bite-sized pieces. It would also be wise to avoid small foods as big as your thumbs such as grapes, almonds, candies, and popcorn.

Lastly, never forget to give your baby your full undivided attention during feeding time.

What To Do When Your Baby Is Choking

If you ever find your baby choking on something, don’t panic. Remember to keep calm and try to perform this following method to stop your baby from choking effectively.

One obvious way to stop a baby from choking is by completely removing whatever is blocking the baby’s airways.

To do so, simply carry your baby and gently place him face down on your forearm and thigh. Make sure that your baby’s bottom is elevated higher than his head.

By using your free hand’s heel, give your baby up to 5 firm blows between his shoulder blades. As you do this, try to check if the obstruction is visible and close enough to remove with your hands.

Do not attempt to blindly feel out the obstruction by putting your fingers in your baby’s mouth. Doing so can only exacerbate the situation.

Once you have successfully removed whatever is blocking your baby’s airways, the next best thing to do is seek a medical professional’s help to ensure that your baby is still okay after being deprived of air.

If it does occur that you aren’t able to remove the obstruction or stop your baby from choking, immediately dial 911 to ask for an ambulance. While waiting for help, continue to give your baby firm back blows.

How To Give A Baby Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)?

The worst-case scenario that you can face when you find your baby choking is a baby that’s completely unconscious and no longer breathing. If subjected to such circumstances, keep calm and try to follow these simple instructions below:

What You’ll Need

  • A Phone

​Finding an unconscious baby that’s no longer breathing can easily cause panic. This is why you should have a phone near you that you can immediately used to call for help. If you don’t have a phone by your side, you could always try seeking out the help of people around you by asking them to make the emergency call for you and your baby.

  • A Soft Surface

You will need a soft but firm surface to place your baby in while you give him Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Make sure that the surface you are placing your baby in is completely flat and free of any clutter that can scratch your baby’s skin or can get into your baby’s ears, eyes, nose, or mouth.

If you are outdoors or don’t have access to a soft and firm surface, you can always use a jacket or a piece of soft clothing as a mat to make harder surfaces more comfortable for your child.​

What You Should Do

  • Step 1: Call 911

Once you see your baby choking, the first thing you should do to ensure your child’s safety is call 911 for an ambulance. If you don’t have a phone with you, you can always ask someone else to call 911 for you.

During emergency situations, most people assume that someone will call 911 without being asked, but that’s often not the case. If you are in public, make sure to choose a specific person to call 911 immediately.​

  • Step 2: Check for Pulse and Consciousness

After you call for help, the next thing you should do is check if your baby is conscious and if he has a pulse. You can do so by lightly placing your head onto his chest and by listening to the faintest of heartbeats.

Another thing you can try to check for the pulse is to place two fingers on your baby’s neck, just below the jaw line.​

  • Step 3: Check for Obstructions in the Airway

Before you perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on your baby, you should first make sure that his airways are completely free of any obstructions. You can check his airways by gently opening his mouth as you tilt his head back and taking a peek inside to see if there’s anything stuck in his throat.

If there is something blocking your baby’s airways, you can try to physically remove the obstruction by giving your baby back blows until he spits it out or until you can safely pick out the obstruction with your fingers.​

  • Step 4: Clear the Airway

Once you have made sure that your baby’s airways are free of any obstructions, you should then start clearing the airway so that once you give your baby rescue breaths, the air will seamless pass through his throat into his lungs.

To do so, simply tilt your baby’s head back while providing support to his neck. Make sure that his throat is completely straight and extended, and open his mouth.​

  • Step 5: Give 5 Rescue Breaths

The next step you should take is to give your baby 5 rescue breaths. You can start gently exhaling air into your baby’s airways by blowing into his mouth. When doing so, make sure that your lips are completely sealing your baby’s mouth to ensure that the air will get pushed into his lungs.

Take note that you only have to exhale a mouthful of air onto your baby’s mouth. Just inhale until your cheeks are all blown up to make sure you are giving just enough air.

Also, remember to only blow air into your baby’s lungs after his chest rises from the air you have passed. Once his chest falls, repeat giving rescue breaths at least 5 times.​

  • Step 6: Give 30 Chest Compression

After giving your baby rescue breaths, it’s now time to pump his heart by giving him 30 chest compression.

Simply place two of your fingers at the center of your baby’s chest. This spot would be directly inline with your baby’s nipples. Once your fingers are in place, it’s now time to sharply press down until you have reached about 1/3 of the chests depth.

As you give your baby chest compression, keep in mind that you have to give it at a rate off a hundred compression per 60 seconds.

After giving your baby 30 chest compression, try giving him 2 rescue breaths and repeat the chest compression procedure again. Continue to give your baby 2 rescue breaths for every 30 chest compression.​

  • Step 7: Repeat Until Help Arrives

If your baby is still not breathing and is unconscious, just continue to perform the chest compressions and the rescue breaths until help arrives. More often than not, people lose hope and stop giving their babies CPR before help arrives, therefore significantly decreasing the chances of saving their baby’s life.

Just remain persistent and repeat the process until medical professionals arrive.

A Quick Recap

Finding a choking baby can be a cause for immediate panic, but if you know what to do under the circumstances, you can easily remain calm knowing that through a couple of steps you can save a child’s life. If you ever find you or your baby under such circumstances, do not forget to immediately call 911 before hand. If your baby is unconscious and not breathing, do not fail to recall to give your baby rescue breaths and chest compression until medical professionals arrive.

If you would like to know more about baby care, please leave us your feedback below. We will try our best to help you in any way we can. Happy reading!​

Kelley Lawless

I am Kelley, I have a smart and lovely daughter. After many years taking care of her, I want to share experiences with you in nurturing as well as advice about health for pregnant women.

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