October 30, 2023
How mealtime quickly turned to an emergency situation

Mealtime was always a happy occasion for us. Our little 11-month-old enjoys playing with balls and blocks but loves his food and is at his happiest when mealtime rolls around.


We had been using a highchair fitted with a three-point harness as our second feeding chair since bubs started solids. It was originally used as grandma’s highchair, however, we found he was much more settled in this one as it had an added footrest.


That day, bubs had been happy and playful when we sat down at the table for lunch. After recovering from RSV, he had been struggling with his cough, so it wasn’t unusual for him to gag or cough on his food. This typically resulted in him bringing his meal forward in his mouth for more chewing.


He took a bite of his lunch and went to cough but inhaled some of his food and began choking.


He went blue and his head was resting on his highchair tray. We were furiously trying to get him out of the highchair but, due to him leaning forward, this was difficult.


We unlatched one buckle, but the second was stuck. My husband ended up cutting the strap so that we could get our son out.


Knowing what to do in an emergency saved our little boy

Fortunately, I had completed a first-aid course that included infant choking. I delivered two back blows to dislodge the food and a trip to the emergency department cleared him of any issues.


I firmly believe every parent should have access to a baby first aid course that includes information on choking. It is our hope these will become more affordable in the future.


I was lucky enough to have had training on this for my work, but we still did another course before bubs arrived as I wanted my husband to know what to do if I wasn’t home. As scary as the situation was, we had the skills needed to respond and save out little boy.


Highchair safety

When choosing a highchair, there’s a few important things to consider:

  • It’s recommended to look for one with a five-point harness – this means a harness with shoulder, waist and crotch straps – to help reduce the risk of your little one falling out.
  • The buckles should be easy for you, but not your child, to release.

“We now spend a lot of time educating family, friends, and childcare staff to ensure every highchair they use includes a five-point harness with a central release button.”



For more information and advice on choosing and using highchairs, please visit our free Baby Safety Guide.


First Aid for Choking: Managing a Complete Obstruction

In an emergency such as a choking incident, every second counts.

  • Call Triple Zero (000)
  • Ensure an infant (under 12 months) is positioned face down on your forearm with their head lower than their chest.
  • For a child (over 12 months), position them leaning forward if possible.
  • Deliver five back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of one hand, checking the mouth between each one to see if the object they are choking on has cleared.
  • If unsuccessful, deliver five chest thrusts with two fingers (infants) or the heel of your hand (child), checking if the object they are choking on has been cleared after each one.
  • Keep alternating between five back blows and five chest thrusts until the object they are choking on clears, or the Ambulance arrives.

For more information on first aid, including links to book your spot at one of our first aid courses with Emergcare, please visit this page