How to Perform Infant CPR
One of the scariest experiences is to realize a child is not breathing. The next scariest is not knowing what to do. Knowing how to perform infant CPR can save an infant’s life in an emergency situation.
CPR stands for “cardiopulmonary resuscitation”. The technique combines chest compressions and rescue breaths to keep oxygenated blood cycling through the body. The aim is to maintain circulation and respiration until emergency medical help arrives.
CPR is used on people who have almost drowned, had a heart attack, lost consciousness or are not breathing for some other reason, such as choking.
Why CPR for Infants?
Performing CPR on an infant is slightly different than for an adult because an infant’s body is smaller. It is important to know how to perform CPR properly. The instructions below are not to be considered a replacement for professional instruction. With the knowledge and skills learned in a first aid and CPR course, you are prepared to save a life in an emergency situation. That life may be your infant’s or someone else’s.
The following instructions are intended for infants under the age of one. These instructions can be used on toddlers and preschoolers.
When my child, who is now 3 1/2 years old, stopped breathing during a febrile seizure, I used the breathing techniques, which I learned in a babysitting course. The techniques I learned as a teenager helped me respond during one of the most frightening experiences in my life. Preparedness helps parents and caregivers respond to events that happen without prior warning.
Drowning is a potential risk for infants and young children. Knowing CPR can prepare you to respond in such a crisis.
Infant CPR Step 1 – Assess the infant’s condition
Determine that the baby is unconscious. Flick her foot or gently tap her shoulder and call her name. If she does not respond and is not breathing, place her on her back and begin CPR immediately. Have someone call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are alone, give two minutes of CPR and call 9-1-1 yourself.
Assess for severe bleeding. If the infant is bleeding, apply pressure to the area. Stop the bleeding. Begin CPR.
Infant CPR Step 2 – Assess breathing
Open the infant’s airway by tilting her chin up slightly. Put your head next to her mouth so that you’re looking at her feet. Observe whether or not her chest is rising and falling. Listen for breathing sounds.
Infant CPR Step 3 – Give two “rescue” breaths
Administer two gentle rescue breaths by placing your mouth over the baby’s mouth and nose. Give short puffs lasting about a second long. “Remember that a baby’s lungs are much smaller than yours, so it takes much less than a full breath to fill them. Breathing too hard or too fast can force air into the baby’s stomach.” (Babycenter.com)
Watch to see if the baby’s chest rises and falls with these breaths. If the infant is breathing, you will feel his breath on your cheek. If not, the airway is blocked. Clear the airway by administering first aid for choking.
Infant CPR Step 4 – Give 30 chest compressions
For chest compressions, place the pads of two or three fingers in the center of the chest, just below an imaginary line running between the nipples.
Compress the chest about 1.5 inches, straight down. Make your compressions smooth, not jerky. Give 30 chest compressions at a rate of 100 per minute, then give two rescue breaths.
Infant CPR Step 5 – Continue alternating compressions and breaths
Continue the sequence of 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths until the infant begins breathing on her own, you feel a pulse or help arrives.
Check for a pulse on the inside of the infant’s upper arm. If there is a pulse, but the baby still isn’t breathing on his or her own, keep giving rescue breaths, one breath every three seconds. Verify presence of a pulse every two minutes. (American Red Cross via Parenting.com)
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
Learn CPR: You Can Do It! University of Washington. Web. May 11, 2012.
Infant first aid for choking and CPR: An illustrated guide. BabyCenter.com. Web. May 11, 2012.
Infant CPR Basics. Parenting.com. Web. May 11, 2012.