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Expert advice

01st Mar 2024

First aider shares dummy safety checks for parents to follow

Jody Coffey

Trigger warning: The video within this article may be distressing for some readers. 

A first aider has issued a safety warning to parents about the risk associations that come with dummies.

This comes after one parent posted a distressing video showing their baby in their cot choking on their dummy.

The baby can be seen thrashing about in their crib after the dummy falls into their mouth before coughing it out onto the bed, and thankfully is now okay and was unharmed, according to their mum.

However, Nikki Jurcutz, founder of Tiny Hearts Education, has now issued some advice to parents with some safety checks they can follow to prevent choking.

Taking to Instagram on the official Tiny Hearts Education account, the first aider admits that they did not realise there were dangers to the devices prior to watching the clip.

“I was holding my breath watching this video sent in by this little ones mum. It’s so hard to watch even though he is ok.

“I wasn’t going to share it but then I showed my husband and we began talking about what we would do to ensure our baby, who has a dummy, is safe. It triggered us to be more aware so I’m sharing in the hope it does the same for you,” the first aider wrote.

Explaining that the baby in the video is only seven months old, yet the dummy still managed to fall into his mouth, she felt it was necessary to share so it doesn’t happen elsewhere.

Compliance Gate also stresses that soothers or dummies manufactured outside the EU may not be designed to comply with European Union safety requirements.

Because dummies are susceptible to wear and tear from prolonged sucking, parts can become loose or break, which could pose a choking hazard to your child.

The HSE advises parents to throw away any undersized, worn, or torn dummies and to always ensure your baby’s soother is the correct one for their age and developmental stage.

Safety checks 

According to the first aider, you should ensure regular checks on the teat of your baby’s dummy for holes.

Holes in the teat of a dummy can allow bacteria to fester and grow, which poses a risk of infection.

The teat length of the dummy should be a maximum of 35mm, according to Nikki. This is to limit the risk of gagging.

She also advised that parents should only purchase dummies that have holes in the shield and explained why.

“These allow air to pass through if a child accidentally swallows it. The shield should have at least two of these holes, and each hole should be at least 4mm in diameter,” she advised.

Lastly, parents should make sure that the shield is large enough to avoid it falling inside a baby’s mouth and that it is free of any sharp edges, as well as ensuring all stickers and labels are removed from the soother.

What do you do if your child is choking?

The HSE outlines the steps that should be taken if you see your child choking.

Step 1 – cough it out

If your child is coughing effectively, encourage them to cough.

If that does not work, you may need to try slap it out.

Step 2 – slap it out

Stand behind your child. Support them in a forward-leaning position.

Give up to 5 blows to the back between the shoulder blades.
If this does not dislodge the object, you will need to try and squeeze the object out.

Step 3 – squeeze it out

Stand or kneel behind the child.

Give 5 abdominal thrusts (this is called the Heimlich manoeuvre).

Clench your fist and place it between the belly button and the ribs.

Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards.

Do not apply pressure to the ribs as this may cause damage.

Step 4 – call 112 or 999

Keep doing 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts. Do this until the object pops out, the ambulance arrives or your child is unresponsive.

If your child is unresponsive, you will need to begin CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation).

Stay on the phone and the emergency  call operator will guide you on what to do next, and also will provide  instructions on how to perform CPR, if it’s needed.

It is crucial to continue CPR until paramedics arrives.

If your child is not conscious or is unresponsive, call 112 or 999 and ask for an ambulance immediately.