Monday, 6 December 2010

The power of a lullaby: and what to do when your child is choking.

Lullabies and choking are not connected, maybe, but this weekend, they were.
When son was little, I sang and sang, he was a super colic baby and did nothing but scream for 4 months. The singing was often less to do with soothing and more to do with drowning the noise out. The only was he would settle (settle, not sleep, Lord no, not for 16 months....) was by flinging him about to Frank Zappa telling him not to eat yellow snow or wailing Little Green Rosetta, which lasts for 8 very long minutes. I'm not even the Zappa fan in this house. (That said, he is a great Pixies singer now, so i'm getting my return). He would allow me put him in the bouncy chair if I sang "Let's go fly a Kite" from Mary Poppins constantly, on occaision allowing a segway to "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". But daughter was different. Whether it wa second child so-soon-after status or not, she would always pop down for a nap and go to sleep beautifully (even though she still wakes up for a "chat" at 4am). I would sing her a lullaby every night feeding her to sleep. I know I wasn't meant to, but hey, both mine self weaned no problem at 15 months. (smug). Our verse of choice was "My Bonny" (click here for a wiki about the song, and see above for the chap in question, Bonnie Prince Charlie) and every night we'd go through 4 rounds of it. Even now, at 2 and a half, it retains a massive power. It literally knocks her out. I can sing it in the middle of the day and her eyes go sleepy. It it so intrinsically linked in her mind to sleep that it sends some sort of "Sleeeep" message to her cortex and off she goes. How I wish I had one of these for son. He does still sing "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" though.
How does this relate to choking? On Friday I put them both to bed at 7pm with nary a bother and absolutely no sign of any illness at all. I spent the evening sewing and quaffing a nice wine. At 11pm, we heard a barking noise from daughters room, and as husband shot upstairs, we found her choking, making that croupy noise and gasping for air. My first thought was that she'd swallowed something from her dolls house. We rushed her downstairs and I called 99, I am really not au fait as to how to cope with small 2 year olds choking, my first aid is all about teenagers. By the time they arrived it was clear she could breathe, but badly, and the medics took one look at her and slapped her back in particular places, and dislodged some almighty globule of mucus. Splat. Daughter was in receipt of one of the worlds fastest acting colds. As she returned to a normal colour, we could see that her eyes were gunky, her nose was blocked and her throat was raw. Poor wee thing. Plus, she was surrounded by medics, stressed parents who were also a little embaressed that it was just mucus and panic, and grandparents who had sped over at breakneck pace. Cue screaming and some obviously healthy lungs. Medics said goodbye, rather reluctantly, as we sent them off to Peterborough at chucking out time. I took daughter to bed. And here is where the lullaby does it's stuff. Nurofen, a nightlight and "my Bonny" and whack she was away, despite all the excitement.
And now for the choking bit.
I knew how to do a Heimlich on an older child, from my teaching training. But toddlers and babies are different. Firstly, if the child is breathing even slightly, as daughter was (ie, if they can make a noise), then do NOT slap their back . It could dislodge anything and send it further down. The correct technique for toddlers and babies is completely different to adult techniques. Here's a link to a baby example. For toddlers, or small children like my daughter (who at 2, is still in 12-18 month clothes), lay them over your knee face down rather than your arm as shown by this gent. I am off to find a Red Cross class that deals with kids first aid. So that I won't have to call out the ambulance unless it's really needed, and I'll be able to cope until they get here if they are.


Jan said...

This is such useful advice ,such a shame you had to learn about it first hand ,what a trauma for you all ,love your daughters choice of lullabye ,one off my children responded to Daisy Daisy ,,she off the bicycle made for two fame Jan xx

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

While waiting at school my friend's small daughter choked on a sweet given to her by her brother, my friend quickly turned her over and walloped her on the back.... just as the new teacher appeared out of her classroom to witness child brutality in action!!

Glad your story had a happy ending xxx