This material is for informative purposes only. For CPR certification and additional expertise, we suggest all new caregivers study the infant CPR/Choking course offered by your local American Red Cross.
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What is CPR?
CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. This is the lifesaving measure you can take to save your baby if no signs of life (breathing or movement) are showing.
CPR uses chest compressions and rescue breaths to circulate blood that contains oxygen to the brain and other vital organs until emergency medical personnel arrive.
Keeping oxygenated blood circulating can help prevent brain damage — which can occur within a few minutes.
Giving CPR to an infant or child up to two years of age isn’t hard to do, but it is different from adult CPR. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Check your baby’s condition
Is your baby conscious? Flick her foot or gently tap on her shoulder and call out. If your baby doesn’t respond, have someone call 911 or the local emergency number.
(If you’re alone with your baby, give two minutes of care as described below, then call 911 yourself.)
Swiftly, but gently, place your baby on their back on a firm surface. Make sure your baby isn’t bleeding severely. If there is bleeding, take measures to stop it by applying pressure to the area. Do not administer CPR until the bleeding is under control.
Step 2: Open your baby’s airway
Tilt your baby’s head back with one hand and lift the chin slightly with the other hand. (You don’t need to tilt an infant’s head back very far to open the airway.)
Check for signs of life (movement and breathing) for no more than ten seconds. To check for your baby’s breath, put your head down next to the mouth, looking toward the feet. Look to see whether the chest is rising and listen for breathing sounds. If your baby is breathing, you should be able to feel breath on your cheek.
Step 3: Give your baby two gentle breaths
If not breathing, give your baby two gentle breaths, each lasting just one second. Cover your baby’s nose and mouth with your mouth and gently exhale into their lungs, but only until you see the chest rise.
Remember a baby’s lungs are much smaller than yours, so it takes much less than a full breath to fill them. Breathing too hard or too fast can force air into the infant’s stomach or damage her lungs.
If her chest doesn’t rise, her airway is blocked. Give her First Aid for choking, as shown above.
If the breaths go in, give your baby two breaths in a row, pausing between rescue breaths to let the air flow back out.
Step 4: Give 30 chest compressions for every two breaths
With your baby still lying on her back, place the pads of two or three fingers just below an imaginary line running between your baby’s nipples.
With the pads of these fingers on that spot, compress the chest 1/2 inch to 1 inch. Push straight down. Compressions should be smooth, not jerky.
Give 30 chest compressions at the rate of 100 per minute. When you complete 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths (Step 3, above).
Step 5: Repeat compressions and breaths
Repeat the cycle of 30 compressions and two breaths. If you’re alone with your baby, call 911 or the local emergency number after two minutes of care.
Continue the cycle of compressions and breaths until help arrives.
Even if your baby seems fine by the time help arrives, you’ll want to have her checked by a doctor to be sure her airway is completely clear and that no internal injuries have been sustained.