How To Perform The Heimlich Maneuver the Right Way

Being prepared for medical emergencies in all scenarios is just as important to us as having food and water during emergency times. One of the most common questions I receive when it comes to first aid and medical care is how to safely execute the Heimlich Maneuver on both children and adults.

I wanted to share with you simple, easy-to-follow steps, so you can be prepared for any family member that may need assistance when choking. I’ve included the suggested steps for infants, children, adults, and if you find yourself alone.

Heimlich Maneuver Steps for Infants (Under 1):

Place her face down on your forearm, supporting her neck and chin with your fingers. Tilt your hand so her head is lower than her chest.

  1. Give five quick blows to her back between her shoulder blades, using the heel of your free hand.
  2. If no object pops out, turn your baby over and place her faceup on a table or the floor.
  3. Place two fingers in the middle of her breastbone just below nipple level and give five quick thrusts.
  4. Repeat the cycle of five back blows and five chest thrusts until the object is dislodged or she begins breathing.
  5. If your baby becomes unconscious, begin CPR immediately. Each time you go to deliver rescue breaths, look for an object in her mouth. If you see something, take it out. But never put your fingers into her throat to feel for an object; you could lodge it more firmly.

RELATED READS: CPR and Choking First Aid Basics

Heimlich Maneuver Steps For Kids Older Than 1:

  1. Stand or kneel behind your kid, wrapping your arms around him.
  2. Make a fist and place it just above his belly button.
  3. Grasp your fist with your other hand and give quick upward thrusts.
  4. Deliver thrusts until the object is dislodged or he begins breathing.
  5. If your child passes out, begin CPR immediately. Each time you go to deliver rescue breaths, look for an object in his mouth. If you see something, take it out. But never attempt to put your fingers into your child’s throat to feel for the object; doing so could lodge the item more firmly in his airway.

How to Perform on Adults

The ideal way to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a standing victim is to wrap your arms around their waist from behind (think of it as a bear hug).

  1. Place your fist with the thumb on the abdomen just above the navel and below the ribcage.
  2. Grab your fist with the other hand and press in an upward motion into the victim’s abdomen.
  3. Perform quick and short thrusts. Take care not to place pressure on the ribcage.
  4. Repeat until the piece of food or the object is ejected.

How to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on Yourself

  1. Make a fist and grasp it with your other hand.
  2. Place the thumb finger of your fist above the navel and below the ribcage and press it in a quick upward motion until the object is out of your airway.


  1. Lean over a horizontal object that is fixed such as a chair, table, or railing.
  2. Use the edge of these objects to apply the upward pressure to dislodge what is blocking your air passageway.

Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

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