Mum Lauren Poundall is urging other parents to learn first aid after she saved her son Theo’s life when he choked on a button.

Lauren, 23, says she believes she might have lost Theo had she not just attended our Whoops! baby and child lifesaving course.    

Theo was playing in the living room of Lauren’s flat in Throckley, Newcastle when he started to go blue and was struggling to catch his breath.

Missing button

The assistant bar manager was getting ready to go to work in Newcastle early in the morning when her gran shouted through for her.

Lauren recalls: “I said to my grandma, ‘What’s he had?’ and she said he’d been playing with my coat on the floor. When I checked it, there was a button missing – he’d obviously pulled a button off my coat and swallowed it.

“You could see he was trying to breathe but he couldn’t and he’d started to go blue. So I lay him over my knee and started doing back slaps.

A cry of relief

“I was surprised at how calm I was – but I think that was because I’d done the course and knew what to do so I was able to stop myself getting emotional.

“The button was really lodged but I managed to get it out and Theo gave a cry of relief and started breathing again. I dread to think what might have happened if I hadn’t done the course. It definitely gave me the confidence to deal with it in the moment though when I got into work, it hit me what could have happened and it took me quite a while before I felt OK again.”

Lauren decided to enrol for the two hour session run by Debbie Ellerby, Training & Project Coordinator with Children North East’s Whoops! Project at her local community centre because Theo had suffered from erratic breathing in his first few weeks of life. Thankfully, he’s now a happy and healthy 15-month-old.

The Whoops! first aid course is funded by Newcastle City Council and players of People's Postcode Lottery.

Figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) who run Family Safety Week suggest a child dies in the UK every month from choking and hundreds more require hospital treatment.

Project co-ordinator, Debbie Ellerby said:

Lauren’s experience just goes to show how fantastic our first aid courses for babies and children are – they really can be life-saving.

Join the next course

The next course is on Thursday 6th June 3:30pm - 5:30pm at 12 Gladstone Terrace, Gateshead. For more information ring 0191 272 7824 or email: [email protected]

Tips to prevent choking

Toddler eating cereal

Choking incidents can happen quickly and can happen to anyone. Babies and toddlers are most at risk because they examine things around them by putting them in their mouths.

  • Always cut up food: Babies and young children can choke on small, sticky or slippery foods. Always cut foods like tomatoes, grapes and blackberries into quarters. Make sure sausages are cut into very small pieces.
  • Keep small objects out of little hands: Babies and toddlers examine things around them by putting them in their mouths. Keep surfaces clear of small toys like building bricks and marbles, and always clean up after playing, especially if you have older children.
  • Sit them down to eat: Children are more likely to choke if they slip or trip while eating. Make sure children sit down to eat and drink, and not lie down, walk or run.
  • Stay within arm’s reach: Always supervise babies and young children.

Find out more about our Child Safety Courses