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Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Infants
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Infants Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a series of steps to help a person who is not responding and has stopped breathing. CPR helps deliver oxygen rich blood to the body tissue when the body is not able to do this on its own. Infant CPR should be used in babies less than 12 months of age.

Infant Heart and Lung System
Infant Heart and Lung System
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

What to Do

Prior to Procedure

Check for unresponsiveness. If the infant is unresponsive, follow these steps:

  • If someone is with you, have them call 911 right away and get the automatic external defibrillator (AED). An AED is a device that delivers electric shocks to the victim's heart.
  • Check to see if the infant is not breathing or only gasping. If this is the case, begin CPR by giving chest compressions:
  • Place two fingers on the center of the chest just below the nipple line.
  • Compress about 1-½ inches in most infants. Push hard and fast at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute.
  • Allow the chest to rise completely between compressions.
  • Minimize interruption between compressions.
  • Give 30 compressions.
  • After 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths:
  • Open the airway by gently tilting the head backward.
  • Cover the infant's nose and mouth with your mouth.
  • Breathe two puffs of air into his mouth and nose. Breathe just until you see the chest rise. Breaths should be about one second each.
  • If you are not trained in CPR, continue doing the chest compressions without giving rescue breaths.
  • If 911 has not been called, call after five cycles of CPR (about two minutes). Call even if the infant is responding and is breathing on his own.
  • Continue cycles of 30 compressions and two breaths until the AED is brought to you, medical personnel arrive, or the infant responds.
  • If another person is present, take turns doing the chest compressions to avoid fatigue. If two people are giving CPR, the ratio of chest compressions to breaths is 15 compressions and then two breaths.
  • To use the AED:
  • Turn the AED on.
  • Attach the pads. Use the child-sized pads if available.
  • Follow the prompts. If advised, deliver the shock. If the shock is not advised, the AED will tell you to resume CPR.

How Long Will It Take?

The length of time for CPR depends on the underlying causes and response time of medical help.

Will It Hurt the Infant?

The victim is unconscious when CPR is given. The procedure does not hurt. There may be some soreness in the chest after regaining consciousness.

Post-procedure Care

The emergency team will take over care when they arrive.

The victim will need to be taken to the hospital for evaluation following CPR.



American Heart Association

American Red Cross


Caring for Kids

Health Canada


American Heart Association. 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science: Part 1 executive summary. American Heart Association website. Available at: . Accessed October 21, 2010.

American Heart Association. Heartsaver First Aid with CPR and AED. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association; 2006

American Red Cross website. Available at: .

Finer NN, Horbar JD, Carpenter JH. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the very low birth weight infant: the Vermont Oxford Network Experience. Pediatrics. 1999;104(3):428-434. Available at . Accessed February 27, 2007.

Otero L. What's new in neonatal resuscitation. Duval County Medical Society website. Available at . Accessed February 27, 2007.

Topjian AA, Berg RA, Nadkarni VM.Pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation: advances in science, techniques, and outcomes. Pediatrics. 2008 Nov;122(5):1086-98. Review.



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