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Learning About Rescue Breathing and CPR for Babies Under 1 Year

Where to position hands for doing CPR chest compressions on a baby


CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is pushing down on a person's chest and breathing into their mouth. It's used in emergencies when someone's heart stops beating or when someone is not breathing normally (may be gasping for breath) or is not breathing at all.

Most babies never need rescue breathing or CPR. But if they do, the best thing you can do is be prepared. Talk to your doctor or take a class to learn how to do rescue breathing and CPR, and then use these instructions as a reference.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are in many public places. Before you use an AED, follow all the steps for CPR.

To use an AED, place it next to the baby and turn it on. The AED will tell you what to do next.

How to do rescue breathing and CPR

Step 1: Check to see if the baby is conscious.

  1. Tap the baby's foot and shout the baby's name.
  2. If the baby does not respond, call 911 or ask someone else to call. Then start CPR. But if you are alone and don't have a phone, start CPR. Do CPR for 2 minutes. Then call 911.

Use an AED (automated external defibrillator) if there is one nearby.

Step 2: Start chest compressions.

  1. Put the baby on a flat surface. Kneel or stand next to the baby.
  2. Picture a line connecting the nipples, and place two fingers or two thumbs on the baby's breastbone just below that line. If you are using your thumbs, use your fingers to encircle the baby's chest and back.
  3. Using your two fingers or thumbs, press hard and fast. Press the chest down at least one-third of its depth. Be sure to let the chest re-expand at the end of each compression.
  4. Give 100 to 120 chest compressions a minute (about 2 times a second). If it helps, push to the beat of a song (like "Staying Alive") that has 100 to 120 beats per minute.
  5. If you are trained in rescue breathing, give 30 compressions, then 2 rescue breaths. (See Step 3.)
  6. If you are not trained in rescue breathing, keep giving compressions until help arrives, an AED is ready to use, or the baby is breathing normally.

Step 3: Rescue breaths.

  1. To do rescue breaths, put one hand on the baby's forehead, and gently tilt the baby's head back.
  2. Put the fingers of your other hand under the bony part of the lower jaw near the chin. Tilt the chin upward to keep the airway open.
  3. Take a normal breath (not a deep one), and place your mouth over the baby's mouth and nose, making a tight seal. Blow into the baby's mouth for 1 second, and watch to see if the baby's chest rises while keeping the chin tilted.
  4. If the chest does not rise, tilt the baby's head again, and give another breath.
  5. Between rescue breaths, put your cheek near the baby's mouth and nose to feel whether air is moving out.
  6. Keep giving compressions and rescue breaths until help arrives, an AED is ready to use, or the child is breathing normally.

Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have questions about how to do rescue breathing and CPR.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.