Welcome to the Fortified Family! I’m Katie Ferraro, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and mom of 7 and I specialize in baby-led weaning. I’m passionate about feeding strong families and making food fun.

The One Thing You Need to Do Before Starting Solid Foods

The One Thing You Need to Do Before Starting Solid Foods


Helping your baby transition to solid foods is an exciting - but scary process. Concern about gagging and the fear of choking can rattle even the most confident of parents and caregivers.

When it comes to choking prevention and intervention, the ONE thing you can do to ensure your baby is starting solid foods safely is to take an infant CPR course.


But I Already Took Infant CPR…

Back when you were an unsuspecting almost-parent, you probably took an infant CPR course. Most hospitals or healthcare systems offer infant CPR to expecting parents.

Before our first daughter was born, my husband and I took an infant CPR course offered through Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns.

When our next pregnancy resulted in premature quadruplet babies, we took a refresher course offered by the NICU at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital.

Now, fast-forward 6 months: it’s time for that baby to start solid foods and all of a sudden, you’re not entirely certain if you can recall the particulars of what to do in the event your baby starts choking on solid food.

That’s why THIS is the perfect time to take a refresher infant CPR course.

My husband and I don’t work in industries that require CPR certification for our profession, but we found that taking a Family & Friends CPR classes was an excellent way to relieve anxiety about some of the scarier aspects of bringing a new baby or multiple babies home.


What Do I Do if My Baby Chokes on Solid Food?

Your baby choking on food is a rare, but real risk. There are some foods that babies should never eat (to learn more about these foods you can grab my free download “15 Foods Never to Feed Your Baby here”) ...but what do you do if your baby DOES choke?

I recently took a refresher Family & Friends Infant CPR class hosted by Sharp Mary Birch Hospital. While I recommend taking your OWN Infant or Family & Friends CPR class before starting solids, here’s a quick glimpse into how it goes and what you learn, so you’ll know what to expect. 


How Infant CPR Class Works

The particular class I took at Sharp Mary Birch was offered by the NICU, so the focus was on infants. However, the class did start out with information applicable to all populations: 

●      Update on American Heart Association guidelines for Adult Hands-Only CPR

●      How to do adult CPR with breaths

●      Step-by-step instructions on how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED)

 My instructor was very knowledgeable about all areas of CPR and shared openly about her experience with infant choking. When the instructor’s niece was 9 months old, she choked on a piece of hard candy given to her by an older sibling.

Luckily, the instructor knew what actions to take in this situation and was able to dislodge the candy. It was her knowledge of infant CPR that saved her niece’s life. (For other “Real Life Stories of Babies Choking on Food” read my blog post here).

The instructor taught the class with the use of videos, instruction and hands-on application. We watched a number of American Heart Association Family & Friends CPR video vignettes, the instructor would reiterate what we just learned, and then participants would perform that aspect of CPR on the CPR manikin training dolls.


Choking in Infants and Children

At the end of the CPR course the focus was on choking in infants and children. The instructor and classmates covered:

●      What to look for as signs of choking

●      How to help a choking infant or child

 Our Sharp instructor was careful to point out that choking is when food or another object gets stuck in the airway. The object stops air from getting to the lungs. Some choking may cause a mild airway block whereas some causes a severe airway block.

With a severe airway block, we need to act fast to remove the object so the child can breathe.

Having the opportunity to practice on the manikin training infant dolls was the most helpful aspect of this CPR class for me. Being able to practice on a dummy infant and learn how to rotate the baby between back slaps and chest compressions - all while keeping the head down to let gravity help dislodge the food - was incredibly reassuring. I now feel more capable that I can administer CPR and dislodge food in my baby in the event of an actual choking incident at my house.


 Where Can You Take Infant CPR?

As your baby approaches the 6-month mark and you begin to start solid foods, consider taking an infant CPR refresher or Friends & Family CPR course.

Your healthcare or hospital system is a great place to start your search.

If you are in the San Diego area, Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns offers a number of CPR course opportunities throughout the county.  You can find a Sharp CPR course near you by visiting sharp.com/classes and selecting “Community Classes.”

Thank you to Sharp HealthCare for sponsoring this post. For more information about Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns visit sharp.com/marybirch.

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