Choking can be a life-threatening emergency. Your child might be choking if he or she suddenly: begins gasping or wheezing can't talk, cry, or make noise begins to turn blue in the face grabs at his or her throat or waves arms appears panicked What to Do If your child is choking, call 911 right away or have someone else call. If you are trained to do abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver), do so immediately. If not done correctly, however, this maneuver could hurt your child. Do not reach into the mouth to grab the object or pat your child on the back. Either could push the object farther down the airway and make the situation worse. Keep the following in mind: If your child is gagging and coughing but can breathe and talk, the airway is not completely blocked and it's best to do nothing. Your child will likely be fine after the coughing spell. If your child was choking and is now unconscious and no longer breathing, send someone to call 911. Immediately perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you've been trained. Take your child for medical care after any serious choking episode, especially if there is a lasting cough or wheezing. If your child has trouble breathing or swallowing, go to the emergency room. Think Prevention! Here are four ways to prevent choking: Children younger than 4 years old should avoid eating foods that are easy to choke on, including nuts, raw carrots, popcorn, and hard or gooey candy. Cut food like hot dogs and grapes into small pieces. Make sure kids sit down, take small bites, and don't talk or laugh with mouths full when eating. Pick up anything off the floor that might be dangerous to swallow, like deflated balloons, pen caps, coins, beads, and batteries. Keep toys or gadgets with small parts out of reach. Learn how to do abdominal thrusts and CPR, which usually are taught as part of any basic first-aid course. Back to Articles Related Articles Household Safety: Preventing Choking Choking is usually caused by food, toys, and other small objects that can get stuck in a child's windpipe. Read about how to protect kids from choking hazards. Read More Choosing Safe Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers How can you tell if a small toy poses a choking risk? What types of unsafe toys should you avoid for your baby, toddler, or preschooler? Find out here. Read More CPR: A Real Lifesaver CPR saves lives. Find out how it works. Read More Choking Choking is an emergency - so it's important to recognize the signs of choking and know what to do if happens. Read More Coughing Coughs are a common symptom, but most aren't a sign of a serious condition. Learn about different coughs, how to help your child feel better, and when to call your doctor. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.