How Do You Perform CPR on an Infant?

It is always better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst than the other way around. This is one of the most important mantras that everyone has to remember when it comes to CPR. CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

This is a potentially life-saving measure that everyone should know how to use properly. Even though most CPR classes tend to focus on adults, the reality is that anyone could require CPR.

Particularly for parents and teachers, it is important to know how to perform CPR properly on infants, toddlers, babies, and small children. There are a few important points to keep in mind.

Before Starting CPR on Anyone

Before jumping in and starting CPR, there are several steps that everyone must follow to ensure CPR is warranted and the appropriate emergency measures are instituted. Prior to administering CPR, everyone should:

  • Start by checking out the scene and the child. Ensure that the scene is safe. After this, tap the child or toddler on the shoulder. Shout loudly to see if he or she is okay and needs help. For infants and babies, flicking the bottom of the foot will usually elicit a response. 
  • Call 911. If a child is not responsive and someone else is in the area, ask them to dial 911. If there is a parent present, make sure to get consent before starting CPR.
  • Prior to starting CPR, open the airway. To do this, make sure the child is laying on his or her back. Afterward, tilt the head back slightly. Lift the chin to open the airway. 
  • Check to see if the child is breathing. Listen carefully but wait no more than 10 seconds. If there are occasional gasps, this does not count as breathing. Infants can experience is something known as periodic breathing. Therefore, shifts in their breathing patterns are considered normal.
  • If the child is not breathing, deliver two separate rescue breaths. Make sure that the nose of the child is pinched shut and make a complete seal by placing your mouth completely over the child’s mouth. Breathe into the child’s mouth slowly, twice.

Once these measures are put in place, it is safe to start CPR as long as it is warranted. 

A Guide to Performing CPR on an Infant or a Baby

Demonstration of a doctor performing CPR on an infant

If it is appropriate to perform CPR on an infant or a baby, there are several steps that have to be followed. These include:

  • Drop down to one knee next to the child or the baby
  • For a child (meaning a child who looks like he or she goes to school), place the heel of one hand in the center of the chest. Then, place the heel of the other hand on top of the first hand. After this, lace the fingers together. Deliver 30 compressions to the chest in rapid succession. The goal is to get each compression to travel two inches into the chest.
  • For an infant (meaning a child who looks like he or she is just learning how to walk or a baby), place two fingers on the sternum. Then, deliver 30 compressions that are about 1.5 inches in depth.
  • The compressions should be delivered at between 100 and 120 beats per minute, or about twice per second.
  • After the compressions are finished, deliver two rescue breaths in the manner described above.
  • Once the breaths have been delivered, return to the compressions as described at the top of this section.

It is important for anyone delivering CPR to a child or a baby to continue the steps until there are obvious signs of life. This could include the child starting to breathe spontaneously, the child waking up, or the child moving on his or her own. 

If the child does not wake up or show spontaneous signs of life, then CPR should be continued until there is an AED that is ready to be used. Alternatively, a trained first responder or an EMS professional might arrive on the scene to take over. 

If none of if this happens, then you should continue providing CPR until you are physically too tired to do so. 

What Makes CPR on Children, Infants, and Babies Different from CPR on Adults?

Differences between performing CPR on an infant and on an adult

Of course, when thinking about CPR, the most obvious first difference is the size of the patient. Cleary, children and toddlers are much smaller than teenagers and full-grown adults. Therefore, this is going to influence how CPR is performed.

At the same time, there are a number of other differences in addition to the size of the patient. For example, the bones of children and toddlers are not nearly as solid or well-formed as teenagers and adults. Therefore, less force is going to be needed to achieve the same results.

Furthermore, the heart rates of children, toddlers, and babies is generally much faster than those of teenagers and adults. This will also influence how quickly CPR has to be performed.

Understanding these important differences will ensure that everyone can perform CPR properly on patients of any size. 

Perform CPR Properly on Children, Toddlers, and Babies

This is a brief overview of how everyone can provide CPR safely to children and toddlers. Keep in mind that there are a number of reasons why children and toddlers might go into cardiac arrest.

Therefore, it is important for everyone to be able to act quickly, efficiently, and appropriately to intervene. Even though most people hope that they will never have to provide CPR to anybody, it is always better to be prepared.

CPR is an important safety tool that should be in the toolkit of everyone. It could end up saving a life. 

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David R earned his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Washington University in St Louis before earning his medical degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. When he isn't treating patients he enjoys playing the piano, participating in sports, and traveling the world.

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