How I Saved My Baby From Choking

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Follow up blogs:
10 Seemingly Obvious Choking Hazards You Never Thought Of
Personal Stories from LifesSwell Readers: My Baby Choked


A couple days ago, my baby choked.


I was napping in the other room and heard a coughing / gagging sound. At first, I didn’t wake up… I’ve overlooked coughs like that a million times before… but then I heard it again and my instincts told me something wasn’t right. I ran into her room. I scanned the crib for anything that was amiss and couldn’t see anything. She was choking and gagging.


I can’t remember what order I did things in but I know that what I learned in infant rescue classes 4 years ago (before the birth of my first child) came to the top of my mind. I flipped her over, head facing down and smacked her in the back repeatedly… I looked in her mouth and saw the item… I tried to scoop it out with my pinky but just pushed it back farther… I flipped her over again and tried to knock it out… none of that was working. I felt SO HELPLESS.


I was on the brink of panic. Alone. At home. The hospital is 1 minute away. My thoughts were “How am I going to get her to the hospital while she is choking?” I can’t believe I didn’t think to call 911…. from now on, I will. I guess that would have been my next thought. Fortunately, I reached into her mouth and was able to pinch the item and pull it out before the situation escalated further.


The item was soaked with mucus. Thick mucus. Her body was working hard to expel it. I couldn’t help but wonder just how long it had been in there… Later, I found a puddle of slippery mucus on the floor right where I had been working on her.


The item was a hair clip.


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The babysitter had put the clip on her and put her down for a nap with it still in her hair. When Waipuna woke up, my teething baby put whatever she could get her hands on, into her mouth. The clip had a metal backing and I was so afraid of ripping up her throat when I pulled – but saving her life was more important. Fortunately, the clip was not smooth. It was circular, about the size of a quarter, and it had many little pleats on it. I have small, long fingers and my instinct was that I would be able to pinch onto it to extract the clip. THANK GOODNESS IT WORKED.


I can’t even handle thinking what could have happened had I not woken up… what would have happened if I wasn’t able to remove the item… if the incident had occurred while the babysitter was still alone with her… so many ‘what ifs’ have been swirling through my head…



To hear the whole story… you can watch the video above. It’s emotional… and raw… after the incident, I called my husband but he was busy and I couldn’t get in touch with anyone… I had to get it off my chest… so I turned the video camera on… and talked. And cried.


Things I’ve learned:


(1) Prevention: We can be better about having small objects around the house and near the baby. We can be better about communicating the dangers to our 3.5 year old and anyone who cares for or watches baby.

(2) Education: We need to get re-certified in infant rescue techniques and keep that knowledge up-to-date.

(3) Gratitude: We need to live every day to the fullest. Be vigilant and aware. Be loving and kind.

(4) Call 911! Hindsight is 20/20… if what I had done, did NOT work, I would have needed back up.


This incident happened SO FAST. I reacted and fortunately, what I did (although no longer recommended) worked. I’m so grateful for the training I got four years ago at Kapiolani Hospital. When I did the training, I couldn’t help but think “I wonder if I’ll remember this or know what to do in an emergency situation?”


I’m usually the one that panics. Screams. Babbles incoherently.


Since I was alone, I was forced to stay calm and do whatever it takes. One thing that reassures and comforts me is that my training kicked in right away.


I want to make clear that I do not blame anyone for what happened. We are all human. We all make mistakes. Accidents happen. And now, we can learn from our mistakes. I hope that my story will help be a reminder to other care-givers out there…


The irony is that I posted a blog about doing Wai’s hair not even two weeks ago and spoke about the dangers of choking and that you should never put baby down with anything small in her hair. Now, I’ll be even more careful and add the car seat to that list – AND any time she is not attended (no matter the circumstance).


Take action!

Some resources for you: 


Hawaii Pacific Health also has classes on Oahu and Kauai at their hospitals: Kapiolani, Straub, Wilcox and Pali Momi. Go to their website by clicking HERE and click on “Health & Wellness” to see a complete list of classes available.

  • There are classes available for “infant care” as well as “infant care for grandparents and caregivers”
  • Dates, times and class duration are provided online
  • People can register right from the website


You can call the Hawaii Heart Foundation for information on where the next CPR / First Aid class will be held or to organize your own. They are a statewide organization so you can get info for any island. Here is the phone number: (808) 369-8756 and a LINK to their website.


Also, mahalo to Maui mama, Joella Gaudet Speelman, for this comment: “Best CPR class I have ever taken was with Seth De Leon at Maui CPR. As a nurse I learned new things with him which surprised me!” Click HERE for a link to find out more.


Other blogs you may be interested in: 

Baby’s First Passport: As Easy as 1, 2, 3

Getting Baby’s Birth Certificate is Easier Than Ever

Obtaining a Social Security Card for Baby

Why My Babies Sleep Through the Night

Why I got the Epidural

Maui Memorial Hospital: Maternity Tour – What to Expect

Childbirth: Hospital Bag Checklist

Preparing Older Sibling for Baby on the Way

The 5 S’s “Happiest Baby on the Block” Works

Getting my Pre-Baby Body Back

My Favorite Affordable Maternity Clothes from Pink Blush Maternity

Jackson’s Birth Story

Early Signs of Pregnancy

Tips for Sleeping Comfortably While Pregnant

Our Birth Announcement Gender Reveal Parody Songs

Mahalo KITV4 for spreading awareness and encouraging people to take action through the sharing of my story!

Here is the story that aired June 10 & 11 on KITV4 News.





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18 Responses

  1. 4APK.RU says

    Nine children under five choked to death last year. Research by St John Ambulance reveals that four-fifths of parents wouldn’t know how to save their baby from choking . I cried, because she gave me the knowledge that helped me save my daughter’s life.’ Read more

  2. G says

    Thank you, my baby choked just a couple of hours ago and I’m still traumatized and I’m still blaming myself for giving her finger food then getting distracted with a conversation. I keep thinking of the worst and of how I would kill myself if I ever lose her. I’m feeling a bit better after watching your video.

    • Malika says

      None of us are perfect! And it is impossible to watch your child every single second of every day… we are all just doing our very best. Don’t beat yourself up. It was a learning lesson and now you are more aware… at least that’s what I learned from my experience :) Mama, you’re doing a great job!

  3. Sissy K says

    I agree with a few previous comments, your face tells all. I am a Nana who babysits my now 29 month old grand-daughter. A few months ago I learned about a toddler, similar in age to my grand-daughter who was being cared for by a family member. This child was given cut portions of grapes with the skin intact and choked. My grand-daughter has a tendency to bite once and swallow, so we are constantly telling her to chew with facial expressions to show her.

    I am truly guessing, but I understand the caregiver did attempt a Heimlich type maneuver, some food did get expelled but not sufficiently to allow airflow. I do not want to second guess any one and their actions and I am retired from a career as a first responder so my reaction might offer me ten-fold options to try. Those are all important, but not as important as calling 9-1-1 while you are running thru the list of things to do.

    Let me add to anyones anxiety because while you are delivering blows to the back, checking if the item has cleared, calling for help, keep in mind, a land line (your house phone) will provide emergency responders with your address in the event you are alone. If not your cell phone carrier should have your most current billing address info and the ability thru enhanced 9-1-1 to locate you via your address. This is multi-tasking that truly means life or death results.

    I enrolled my grand-daughter and I in a Tiny Tots programs in Mililani where better than half of the children in attendance are in the care of their grandparent. I’ve taken the responsibility to ask our program director about providing info for infant rescue training because I can see where precious seconds could become minutes of our loved one being deprived of oxygen based on my observations of these caregivers.

    Diligence is necessary, in how we prepare food items for children, no matter the age as well as monitoring items that could become choke hazards. Constant supervision, I will repeat, constant, because seconds are truly all that we have. I’ve wanted to shout this to so many caregivers and I am grateful that you shared this heart wrenching experience with us as a reminder of how precious life is.

    • Malika says

      Thank you for sharing… we don’t have a landline and are in a rental so the owner doesn’t have any intention of installing one. I now keep my cell near me at all times because in the moment, I didn’t have it and didn’t know where it was. Being all alone, I don’t know what I would have done if what I did had not worked. Next time, I’ll definitely call 911. Mahalo for the great tips.

  4. Jennifer says

    I’m so glad that she is okay and that you awoke in time. Thank you for sharing your experience and the resources. I need to re-take my cpr class as well.

  5. Anonymous says

    Thank you for sharing! Something similar happened to me as well with my first son about 7 years ago. He was playing in the floor and I was in the kitchen doing something when I heard him start to gag and choke. We, too, are pretty vigilant when it comes to not leaving small things around but something in my gut told me the way he was coughing sounded different. I ran to the living room and saw he was gagging on something. I didn’t know what to do either. I had never taken an infant cpr class and was home alone. My first thought was “should I call someone for help? 911? My neighbor?” But realized something had to happen now not wait for help. So just like you, I rememenered I had heard somewhere to flip the baby over, hold him like a football, and hit his back to try to dislodge anything stuck. It worked. I swiped his mouth and found a piece of plastic covering, like a wrapper from the outside of a cd. My step daughter had unwrapped something earlier and I guess had left a piece of it on the ground. And babies will find any little thing and put it in their mouths. You did everything right and didn’t panic. Know that it happens to many of us moms.

    • Malika says

      Wow. Thank you for sharing. The more stories I hear… it just highlights how common this is! The need is great for people to gain the knowledge necessary to deal with these situations. I’m so happy your baby was ok. You did good mama!

  6. Lei says

    Thank you so much for sharing. What a scary situation and something I could definitely take notes on. My daughter is 6 months old and is in the stage of always putting whatever she can get a hold of into her mouth. Like you, I put her down with nothing in her crib but occasionally she wears headbands in her car seat which she will fall asleep in as well. A couple of times I’ve caught her chewing on the flower attached to the headband. I will definitely be more careful about the things I place on her head. Mahalo!!

    • Malika says

      I’m so happy my experience can be used as a reminder for all moms. Mahalo for reading and for commenting. It really touches my heart :)

  7. Malia B. says

    That really was an act of God that woke you up. You could of easily just slept through. I’m so glad you awoke and went into the room!

    A similar situation just happened to me last wk – but with my little dog. I came home and gave her a larger piece of chicken thinking she would chew it. She tried to swallow it instead. I was in the other room and heard a single weird sound – like a loud chicken cluck. I almost ignored it. Thankfully I didn’t. I went into the other room and saw my Pom face down and paws spread open. Her tongue was blue and eyes rolled back. Unlike you, I had no training. But knew a blue tongue meant no oxygen. I wasn’t even sure if she was still alive. I blew air into her mouth 4x and she wasn’t moving..even turned her upside down (without hitting her back like you did)..nothing was in her mouth. I think she was actually gone as she was totally lifeless… and in shock I put her down. Right then this force from in her pushed the chicken to her mouth with a slight jerk – I pulled it out and blew more air into her – then she slowly came back. Like your baby, my dog is the most precious thing to me. I can only thank God as nothing else could explain what happened. Someone posted your story on fb and I couldn’t help but share what happened to me last wk Fri.

    Much love!

    • Malika says

      I’m so sorry you had to go through that! How terrifying! All is well that ends well… fortunately, for us – there were good outcomes. Hugs to you!

  8. Malika says

    Hello Malika,
    I don’t have children but your video just make me so emotional and I could feel what you felt at this exact moment. Hopefully, your beautiful baby is okay. Your video will for sure help other families.
    Funny, my name is also Malika, I from France, my parents are from Algeria but I live in Montreal. You have a beautiful family and you seem to be a very good and positive person, which is what we need nowadays. Keep going with you projects and with loving your family.


    • Malika says

      My mom is from Algeria too! We have a lot in common :) Mahalo for your comment and encouragement. I really appreciate it! Merci beaucoup!

  9. Rachel Love says

    Thank you so much for sharing!!! I actually could not bring myself to watch the video yet because the look on your face says everything. I have been very close to a panic situation like this with my 6 month daughter, and I can’t even imagine what could have happened. I was just telling my husband yesterday that we need to contact Seth about renewing our CPR, and this is just another sign. Thank you again, Malika. Calling right now.

    • Malika says

      I’m so happy my story served as a reminder to renew your CPR training!

  10. Anonymous says

    Gosh Malika, you were so brave to share this with the public. But if it can help another family…then it’ll do some good.
    Take care of your beautiful Waipuna…she’s so cute. This is a lesson that you’ll never forget, but put it in the past tense and move on.
    Aloha and blessings to you and the rest of your ohana.

    • Malika says

      Mahalo for your comment :) I am truly touched.