Peanut gets excited about food. If she's really hungry (which seems to be quite often...I swear we feed her!), she is quick to shove food in her mouth before chewing. Combine that with drinking water too fast and we've got one choking-prone kid. Nothing serious, mind you...just a simple "hack hack hack" and she's right as rain.
A couple weeks ago, after playing for a bit in the living room, it was time for lunch. I set Peanut in her high chair and placed several pieces of cheese in front of her. As usual, she started shoveling the food in her mouth as fast as she could. Though this time her coughs were actual gags. She spit the cheese from her mouth and tried one piece at a time. Same thing happened. I was concerned...how could one small piece of food make her gag like that? So, as I'm standing there trying to figure out what is going on it happens. She wasn't gagging...and wasn't breathing. Peanut was full on choking.
I'm not sure what the time lapse was between realizing what was happening and having her facedown on my arm in the infant Heimlich position, but I can safely assume it was mere seconds. I only had to hit her back 2-3 times before the obstruction fell out of her mouth. She started coughing and crying (sweet, sweet music to my ears!).
This, my friends, is the safety seal off a bottle of lotion (folded in half). She must have shoved it in her mouth while we were playing on the floor (not sure how it got into the living room, it should have been in the trash). My guess is that every time she tried to swallow a piece of cheese, this would get caught at the back of her throat...until it finally lodged itself in place. I would have never guessed that something so small and innocent looking could be so dangerous.
Afterward, I cradled Peanut in my arms on the kitchen floor in a state of mild shock and relief. Once comforted (both of us), it was understandable that she didn't want to eat lunch anymore. It took a good 10 minutes for her to go back to being her happy-go-lucky (very hungry) self.
Why did I tell you this story? Awareness. I was a lifeguard for several years and was trained to respond to all types of situations. I never once thought that I'd have to use any of this on my own child.
So, please...if you are not CPR/first aid certified, do it. You owe it to yourself and your family. In the meantime, read this article. It gives you the basics on what to do if you are ever put in a situation where the Heimlich or CPR is necessary.