Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Infants
(Lay Rescuer CPR for Infants)
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a series of steps to help a person whose breathing or heart has stopped. CPR helps pump blood to the body when the heart cannot do so. Infant CPR is used in babies less than 12 months of age.
Infant CPR can keep blood flowing to vital organs until professional help arrives.
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Reasons for Procedure
CPR is given when an infant has stopped breathing. This may happen due to:
The outcome varies. It depends on the cause and how soon CPR was started. After the heart has stopped, a normal heartbeat may not come back.
It is possible that ribs will fracture or break during chest pushes (compressions).
There is more risk of problems if CPR is not done correctly or right away.
What to Do
Prior to Procedure
Check for safety at the scene. Tap the infant and call the infant's name. If the infant does not respond or breathe normally, follow these steps:
- If someone is with you , have them call for medical help right away. Ask for an automatic external defibrillator (AED). An AED is a device that shocks the infant's heart.
- If you are alone , do CPR for about 2 minutes first. Then call for medical help and the AED.
- Place 2 fingers on the middle chest just below the nipple.
- Push down about 1-½ in (inches) with the 2 fingers. Push hard and fast.
- Allow the chest to rise completely between pushes.
- Avoid interruption between compressions.
- Give 30 pushes.
After 30 pushes, give 2 rescue breaths:
- Gently tilt the infant's head backward.
- Cover the infant's nose and mouth with your mouth.
- Breathe 2 puffs of air into the infant's mouth and nose. Breathe until you see the chest rise. Breaths should be about 1 second each.
- If you are not trained in CPR , just do the chest pushes. Do not give rescue breaths.
- If medical help has not been called, call after 5 cycles of CPR (about 2 minutes). Call even if the infant is awake and breathing.
- Continue cycles of 30 pushes and 2 breaths—until the AED is brought to you, medical help arrives, or the infant responds.
- If another person is there, take turns doing the chest pushes. If 2 people are giving CPR, each should do 15 chest pushes and 2 breaths.
To use the AED:
- Turn the AED on.
- Attach the pads. Use the child-sized pads if available.
- Follow the prompts. If advised, give the shock. If the shock is not advised, the AED will tell you to continue CPR.
How Long Will It Take?
The length of time for CPR varies. It depends on the cause and how fast medical help arrives.
Will It Hurt the Infant?
The infant is unconscious when CPR is given. CPR does not hurt. The infant may have some chest soreness after waking up.
The emergency team will help the infant when they arrive.
After CPR, the infant will need to go to the hospital to be checked.
Call for Help
If an infant is not breathing or responding:
- If someone is with you—have them call for medical help right away
- If you are alone—do CPR for 2 minutes before calling for medical help
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Child and baby CPR. American Red Cross website. Available at: https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr/performing-cpr/child-baby-cpr. Accessed September 28, 2021.
Part 5: neonatal resuscitation. 2020 American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://cpr.heart.org/en/resuscitation-science/cpr-and-ecc-guidelines/neonatal-resuscitation. Accessed September 28, 2021.
Pediatric basic life support. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/pediatric-basic-life-support-bls. Accessed September 28, 2021.
Topjian A, Raymond T, et al. Pediatric basic and advanced life support: 2020 American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation. 2020;142, (16) suppl_2: S469–S523.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 9/28/2021