CPR and Automated External Defibrillators (Child, Up to Age 1 Year)

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is used when a baby isn’t breathing. It's also used when a baby is gasping for breath or his or her heart has stopped beating. CPR starts with chest compressions. It's followed by rescue breathing. The chest compressions and rescue breathing are done in cycles. CPR does the work of the heart and lungs.

Take an infant CPR class to learn how to respond to an emergency. The class will teach you the right way to do CPR. You can take a class online or in person through the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.

The information below gives you the basics of infant CPR. It's not intended to take the place of CPR training.

Getting started

Babies and children are more likely to have cardiac arrest because of a lung or airway problem instead of a heart problem. Because of this, rescue breathing should always be combined with chest compressions in babies and children. Not everyone may be able to do this, or they may not be willing to do this. (In adults, chest compressions without rescue breathing may work as well as the combination of chest compressions plus rescue breathing.)

An automated electronic defibrillator (AED) is a medical device that checks the heart rhythm of a person who has collapsed or is unconscious. If needed, the AED delivers an electric shock to get the heart beating again. AEDs are often found in public places. You may find AEDs in daycare centers, schools, offices, airports, and shopping malls.

Step 1.  Check if your baby can respond

  • Tap or gently shake your baby. Call out your baby’s name.

  • If the baby responds, stay with him or her. Call 911. Keep your baby comfortable and warm until emergency rescuers arrive.

If your baby does not respond, is not breathing, or is gasping for breath, do the following:

  • If someone is with you, have that person call 911. He or she should also try to find an AED. In the meantime, begin chest compressions right away.

  • If you’re alone, start chest compressions and rescue breathing (steps 2 and 3). Continue for 2 minutes. But if you saw your child collapse, call 911 right away. Use an AED if one is readily available. (See Steps 4 and 5 below.)

Step 2. Begin chest compressions

  • Lay your baby on his or her back on a firm surface.

  • Place 2 fingers on your baby’s breastbone just below an imaginary line that runs between the nipples.

  • Use your 2 fingers to compress the baby’s chest. Press down to at least 1/3 the depth of the baby’s chest. This is about 1-1/2 inches in depth.

  • Allow the baby’s chest to come back up after each compression. This gives the heart time to refill with blood.

  • Do 30 compressions. Press down quickly. You should be doing these at a rate of at least 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

  • If you’re trained in CPR and can do rescue breaths, now is the time to give them (see step 3).

Step 3. Begin rescue breathing

  • Put one hand on your baby’s forehead. With your other hand, put 2 fingers under the baby’s chin and gently tilt the head upward. Don’t tilt the head too far back.

  • If your baby doesn’t start breathing right away, place your mouth over the baby’s open mouth and nose. Give one gentle rescue breath, lasting 1 second (in your mind, count “one one-thousand”). Babies’ lungs are small, so don’t give a full breath.

  • Check if your baby’s chest rises:

    • If the chest rises, air has gone into the lungs. Let the baby exhale. If the baby responds by breathing, coughing, or moving, don’t do any more chest compressions.

    • If the baby’s chest does not rise, air has not gone into the baby’s lungs. The airway may be blocked. Tilt the baby’s head again. Check if there’s something in the baby’s mouth. If you can see an object, use your little finger to sweep it out.

    • Give one more rescue breath.

    • If the baby’s chest still does not rise, start chest compressions again.

  • Continue with the cycle of 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths for 2 minutes, or until the baby breathes, coughs, or moves.

Step 4.  Call 911

  • After 2 minutes of chest compressions and rescue breathing, call 911,if it has not already been called.

  • If you know you can get to an AED right away, get it quickly and put it near the baby. Begin using the AED (see step 5).

  • If there is no AED, start chest compressions and rescue breathing again (steps 2 and 3). Continue until the baby breathes, coughs, or moves or until help arrives.

Step 5.  Using the AED

  • Make sure you are in a dry area. If not, move the baby to a dry area with a firm surface.

  • Remove the baby’s clothing from his or her upper body. If needed, dry the baby's chest.

  • Turn on the AED. Listen to and follow the instructions:

    • Put the pads on the baby’s chest. Follow the pictures on the instructions that come with the AED. Use the small pads meant for infants. If they are not available, use the adult pads. When using the adult pads, make sure the pads don’t touch each other. If it looks like the pads will touch, put one pad in the center of the baby’s chest. Put the other pad on the center of the baby’s upper back. You may need to first dry the baby’s back.

    • Don't touch the baby while the AED checks the baby’s heart rhythm.

    • The AED will deliver a shock if needed.  Some AEDs will tell you to press a button to deliver the shock.

  • Start chest compressions and rescue breathing again. Don't remove the chest pads. The AED will continue to check the baby’s heart rhythm.

  • If the baby responds, stay with him or her. Keep the baby comfortable and warm until help arrives.

  • Continue CPR with the instructions from the AED. Do this until the baby responds or help arrives. 

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