Rescue breathing and chest compressions - infant; Resuscitation - cardiopulmonary - infant; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation - infant
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is a lifesaving procedure that is done when a baby's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. This may happen after drowning, suffocation, choking, or other injuries. CPR involves:
Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if a baby's blood flow stops. Therefore, you must continue these procedures until the infant's heartbeat and breathing return, or trained medical help arrives.
CPR is best done by someone trained in an accredited CPR course. The newest techniques emphasize compression over rescue breathing and airway, reversing long-standing practice.
All parents and those who take care of children should learn infant and child CPR. See
Time is very important when dealing with an unconscious baby who is not breathing. Permanent brain damage begins after only 4 minutes without oxygen, and death can occur as soon as 4 to 6 minutes later.
Machines called automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can be found in many public places, and are available for home use. These machines have pads or paddles to place on the chest during a life-threatening emergency. They automatically check the heart rhythm and give a sudden shock if, and only if, that shock is needed to get the heart back into the right rhythm. Make sure the AED can be used on infants. When using an AED, follow the instructions exactly.
There are many things that cause an infant's heartbeat and breathing to stop. Some reasons you may need to do CPR on an infant include:
1.Check for alertness. Shake or tap the infant gently. See if the infant moves or makes a noise. Shout, "Are you OK"?
2. If there is no response, shout for help. Tell someone to call 911 and get an AED, if available. Do not leave the infant yourself to call 911 until you have done CPR for about 2 minutes.
3. Carefully place the infant on their back. If there is a chance the infant has a spinal injury, two people should move the infant to prevent the head and neck from twisting.
4. Perform chest compressions:
5. Open the airway. Lift up the chin with one hand. At the same time, tilt the head by pushing down on the forehead with the other hand.
6. Look, listen, and feel for breathing. Place your ear close to the infant's mouth and nose. Watch for chest movement. Feel for breath on your cheek.
7. If the infant is not breathing:
8. After about 2 minutes of CPR, if the infant still does not have normal breathing, coughing, or any movement, leave the infant if you are alone and call 911. If an AED for children is available, use it now.
9. Repeat rescue breathing and chest compressions until the infant recovers or help arrives.
Keep rechecking for breathing until help arrives.
Most children need CPR because of a preventable accident. The following tips may help prevent some accidents in children:
American Red Cross. Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED Ready Reference. Revised 6/14. Dallas, TX: American Red Cross; 2014.
Berg MD, Schexnayder SM, Chameides L, et al. Part 13: pediatric basic life support: 2010 American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation. 2010;122(18 Suppl 3):S862-S875. PMID: 20956229
Cukor J, Manno M. Pediatric respiratory emergencies. In: Marx J, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 168.
Donoghue AJ, Berg RA, Nadkarni V. Pediatric resuscitation. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 10.
Last reviewed on: 4/12/2015
Reviewed by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.