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Child and Infant CPR: A Comprehensive Guide for Every Parent

CPR training on an infant

Table of Contents

Sharon McCulloch

As parents, we often find ourselves hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. One crucial skill that falls into this category is knowing how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on children and infants. While we all pray we’ll never have to use it, being equipped with this knowledge can be life-saving in a cardiac or breathing emergency.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with essential information and steps for performing CPR on children and infants, emphasising the importance of quick and effective response in emergency situations. However, remember that reading about CPR is just the first step. To truly be prepared, enrolling in a CPR training course at a registered training organisation like First Aid Pro is crucial.

Their hands-on, expert-led courses will equip you with the skills and confidence needed to act swiftly and effectively, potentially saving a young life. Don’t wait for an emergency to realise the value of this knowledge. Take action now and ensure you’re ready to provide the best care possible when it matters most. And remember, always call triple zero (000) if a child in your care is experiencing life threatening symptoms.

Why It’s Important to Know Child and Infant CPR

cardiopulmonary resuscitation on an infant

The significance of first aid training cannot be overstated, offering crucial benefits in everyday life. Here’s why it’s so important:

  1. Prompt Care and Lessening Injury Impact: First aid skills enables people to offer prompt assistance, lessening the severity of injuries and enhancing safety in emergency situations, whether at home, in public places, or at work.
  2. Boosting Confidence and Skills: Learning first aid not only boosts confidence but also empowers individuals. It enhances personal safety and equips people to handle dangerous situations more effectively.
  3. Mental Health Advantages: Being equipped with first aid knowledge and the ability to assist others contributes to greater self-assurance, reduced anxiety and stress levels, a heightened sense of purpose, and an increase in empathy and compassion towards others.
  4. Advantages in the Workplace: Implementing first aid training among employees can foster better teamwork, improve morale, and reflect a company’s dedication to maintaining a safe work environment. This, in turn, positively affects employee confidence and customer service.
  5. Enhanced Safety Consciousness: First aid training raises awareness about safety, leading to a decrease in accidents and injuries, especially in work environments.

Refreshing Your Knowledge

Even if you’ve taken a CPR class in the past, it’s essential to keep this information fresh in your mind. Why? Because in an emergency, every second counts, and you don’t want to waste precious time trying to recall what you learned.

To perform CPR on a child or infant, follow these general steps:

CPR, short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a critical emergency procedure used when a child or infant’s breathing or heartbeat ceases. This situation may arise from incidents such as drowning, suffocation, choking, or other injuries. The key components of CPR include:

  • Rescue Breathing: This step helps supply oxygen to the baby’s lungs.
  • Chest Compressions: These are essential to ensure continuous blood flow.

The urgency of performing CPR lies in the fact that a halt in blood flow can lead to permanent damage to the brain and vital organs or death within minutes. It’s crucial to sustain these life-saving measures until either the infant’s heartbeat and breathing resume or professional medical assistance arrives.

Key Considerations

  • Training and Technique: Ideally, CPR should be performed by someone trained through an accredited course. Current methodologies prioritise chest compressions over rescue breathing and airway management, a significant shift from previous practices.
  • Learning CPR: It’s highly recommended for all educators, parents and child caregivers to learn infant and child CPR. Training courses can be found at First Aid Pro. Remember, the guidelines outlined here do not replace formal CPR training.
  • Timing in Emergencies: In situations involving an unconscious, non-breathing child /infant, time is critical. Brain damage can start just 4 minutes after oxygen deprivation, with the risk of death increasing between 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Use of AEDs: Automated external defibrillators (AEDs), often located in public places and available for home use, are crucial in emergencies. These devices have pads or paddles for chest placement and automatically assess and respond to heart rhythms, delivering a shock if necessary. Ensure the AED is suitable for infants and follow its instructions precisely.

Causes for CPR

CPR may be required for various reasons, including:

  • Choking
  • Drowning
  • Electrical shock
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Serious injury such as head trauma
  • Lung disease
  • Poisoning
  • Suffocation

When to Perform CPR

Perform CPR if an infant shows any of these symptoms:

  • Child stops breathing or absence of breathing
  • Lack of pulse
  • Unconsciousness

Steps for Performing CPR on a Child or Infant


Below is the DRSABCD Action plan to guide you through these potentially life saving steps:

To perform CPR on a child or infant, follow these steps:

For a Child (Ages 1 to 8):

Chest compressions on a child
  1. Check for Responsiveness:
    • Shake or tap the child gently and shout the child’s name. If the child is unresponsive, proceed to the next step and start CPR.
  2. Give 30 Chest Compressions:
    • Place the heel of one hand in the centre of the child’s chest.
    • Push down hard and fast about 5 centimetres (2 inches) at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
  3. Open the Airway:
    • Tilt the child’s head back and lift the chin.
  4. Look, Listen, and Feel for Breathing:
    • Look for chest movement, listen for breath sounds, and feel for breath on your cheek as signs of the child breathing normally.
  5. Give 2 Rescue Breaths:
    • Pinch the child’s nose closed, place your mouth over the child’s mouth, and give two slow, gentle breaths.
  6. Continue Giving CPR:
    • Perform 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths.
    • Continue until medical help arrives or until another rescuer takes over.

For an Infant (Ages 0-1):

first aid training cpr
  1. Check for Responsiveness:
    • Gently tap the infant’s foot or shoulder and yell. If the baby is unresponsive, move on to the next step and call triple zero (000) immediately.
  2. Give 30 Chest Compressions:
    • Place two fingers in the centre of the baby’s chest and press down hard and fast about 4 centimetres (1.5 inches) at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
  3. Open the Airway:
    • Ensure the head is in a neutral position and lift the chin.
  4. Look, Listen, and Feel for Breathing:
    • Look for chest movement, listen for breath sounds, and feel for breath on your cheek.
  5. Give 2 Rescue Breaths:
    • Cover the baby’s mouth and nose with your mouth and give two slow, gentle breaths.
  6. Continue Giving CPR:
    • Perform 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths.
    • Continue until medical help arrives or until another rescuer takes over.

It’s important to stress again that if the child or infant does not respond and is not breathing or only gasping, triple zero (000) or your local emergency services should be called immediately, and CPR should be started right away.

Mistakes to Avoid

In administering CPR to an infant, it’s critical to steer clear of frequent errors to ensure the procedure’s success. Key mistakes to avoid during infant CPR are:

  1. Inadequate Compressions: Avoid compressions that aren’t deep enough, or those performed at an incorrect speed – neither too slow nor too fast.
  2. Overemphasising Mouth-to-Mouth: Focus on effective chest compressions rather than prioritising mouth-to-mouth respiration.
  3. Interruptions and Assessment Errors: Do not pause CPR unnecessarily and ensure a proper evaluation of the infant’s response to the procedure.
  4. Neglecting to Seek Help or Incorrect Arm Position: Always call for help immediately and make sure to maintain the infant’s elbows in a straight position during compressions.
  5. Not Calling Emergency Services or Using an AED: Failing to call emergency services promptly or not utilising a defibrillator when it’s available can be critical oversights.

Again, this highlights that receiving formal training in CPR is vital for learning the accurate techniques and avoiding these errors. This training ensures you are well-prepared to perform CPR effectively on an infant.

The Vital Importance of First Aid Training

First aid training holds an indispensable place in both personal and professional spheres of life. By undertaking infant first aid training, individuals equip themselves with the skills necessary to provide immediate and effective care in emergencies involving children and infants, a crucial skill for educators, parents and caregivers. This specific training can drastically reduce the severity of injuries and even save lives.

Similarly, basic first aid training is fundamental for everyone, fostering a sense of confidence and empowerment. It prepares individuals to handle a variety of incidents and emergencies, enhancing personal safety and well-being. Moreover, the psychological benefits of knowing first aid are significant, contributing to reduced anxiety, increased self-assurance, and a heightened sense of empathy and purpose.

In the workplace, first aid training promotes a safe environment, boosts employee morale, and improves team dynamics. Above all, it cultivates a culture of safety awareness, leading to fewer accidents and a more secure environment for everyone. The importance of first aid training, therefore, cannot be overstated – it is a vital skill set that has far-reaching benefits across all areas of life.

In Conclusion

This guide on Child and Infant CPR underscores a crucial aspect of parenting and caregiving: being prepared for emergencies. Understanding and mastering these life-saving techniques not only provides immediate aid in critical situations but also instills a sense of confidence and responsibility.

While the guide offers valuable insights, it’s a reminder that these steps are just the beginning. The real proficiency comes from hands-on practice and formal training in first aid. Such training is not just about responding effectively in emergencies; it’s about embracing a proactive approach to safety, reducing risks, and making our homes, workplaces, and communities safer for everyone, especially the little ones who depend on us the most.

The content on this website offers general insights regarding health conditions and potential treatments. It is not intended as, and should not be construed as, medical advice. If you are facing a medical emergency, dial 000 immediately and follow the guidance provided.

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