How To Properly Perform Infant CPR

Emergencies Wait For No One.

Bagging an infant with resuscitation bag. Credit: Photo Researchers / Getty Images

When it comes to CPR, there is no substitute for proper training. However, emergencies wait for no one. In an emergency situation, use these steps to provide CPR to babies and infants under 1 year old.

Steps To Infant CPR 

  1. Stay Safe
    Children may be infected with contagious diseases. If you are concerned about possible exposure to contagious disease, practice universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment, if available.
  1. Try to wake the infant
    Really little babies respond well having the soles of their feet rubbed or tapped. For infants more than 2 months old, tap their shoulder or chest. In either case, call out the child's name in a loud voice. Don't hurt the baby but be aggressive; you're trying to wake them up.

    If the infant does not wake up, have someone call 911 immediately. If no one else is available to call 911 and the baby is not breathing, continue to step 3 and do CPR for about 2 minutes before calling 911.

  2. Begin chest compressions
    If the baby is not breathing, put two fingers on the breastbone directly between the baby's nipples. Push straight down about an inch and a half -- or about a third of the thickness of the baby's chest -- and then let the chest all the way back up. Do that 30 times, about twice per second.

    If you've been trained in CPR and you remember how to give rescue breaths, go to step 4. If not, just keep doing chest compressions and go to step 5.

  1. Give the baby two breaths
    After pushing on the chest 30 times, cover the baby's entire mouth and nose with your mouth and gently blow until you see his or her chest rise. Let the air escape -- the chest will go back down -- and give one more breath.

    If no air goes in when you try to blow, adjust the baby's head and try again. If that doesn't work, then skip it and go back to chest compressions (step 3), you can try rescue breaths again after 30 more compressions.

  1. Keep doing CPR and call 911 after 2 minutes
    If you are by yourself, keep doing CPR for 2 minutes (about 5 groups of compressions) before calling 911. If someone else is there or comes along as you are doing CPR, have that person call 911. Even if the baby wakes up, you need to call 911 any time you had to do CPR.

    Once 911 has been called or you have someone else calling, keep doing CPR. Don't stop until help arrives or the baby wakes up.

Tips For Infant CPR 

  1. When checking for breathing, if you're not sure then assume the baby isn't breathing. It's much worse to assume a baby is breathing and not do anything than to assume he or she isn't and start CPR.
  2. Put a book under the baby's shoulders -- if you have time -- to help keep his head tilted back.
  3. When asking someone else to call 911, make sure you tell them why they are calling. If not, they may not tell the 911 dispatcher exactly what's going on. If the dispatcher knows the baby isn't breathing or responding, the dispatcher may be able to give you instructions to help.


Travers AH, Rea TD, et al. "Part 4: CPR overview: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care." Circulation. 2010;122(suppl 3):S676 –S684.

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