Babies: 9 - 12 Months

Can a Baby Die From Choking on Phlegm?

Sorry to sound so dramatic but LO has a cold and she coughs up phlegm which then gets caught in her throat. When she and I were awake it was fine; she always got it down and I could watch to make sure, but now it's time to sleep and I'm worried she'll choke while I'm asleep. When she chokes it sounds so bad, and scary when she can't breath. Can babies actually die from choking on phlegm? Hubby doesn't think so but I read a discussion on here ( where it sounded like their baby almost died choking on it.

Re: Can a Baby Die From Choking on Phlegm?

  • First thing first, you need to take her to be seen.  If she's coughing up junk there's a good chance she need meds (it could be pneumonia).  But I'll tell you this - last week my little guy had a cold and then started choking as well on what I assumed was phlegm.  I took him in and his lungs were clear.  He had a nasty ear infection and all his nasal congestion was causing post nasal drip.  The doctor said he was just very sensitive to the sensation.
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  • I don't want to sound dramatic either but yes, they can.  You can't give babies antihistamines (cold medicine generally) because it can make phlegm thick and babies cannot clear their throats so they can choke.  That being said, you can do some things to help your baby out.  It's winter so if there are coughs and congestion you can do a steamy shower then bundle them up and go outside for a few minutes (the cold constricts all the bronchials helping them out from inflammation).  You can invest in a humidifier too (though I never have).  You can also put a book (under each leg) at the top of her crib to create a slight incline (or put a long thing that's thin under the top end of the mattress). If you are really and truly worried that the amount of phlegm your LO is coughing up could choke her you should call your pedi.
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  • I would talk to your pediatrician and inquirie about a pneumogram.

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