What CPR Do I Need to Know For My Baby?


For parents, one of the scariest health events is when their baby stops breathing. What do you do? Should you administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)? How much time do you have?

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we hope you’ll never have to use CPR for your infant or child, but in case you do, it’s very important to know what to do in the event of a cardiac or breathing emergency.

The American Red Cross offers the following step-by-step CPR instructions that we think all parents should know. (Although you may have taken a class in child CPR, it’s still a good idea to keep these instructions handy so the information stays fresh in your memory.)

Print out several copies so you can keep them in your car, your desk, your kitchen, your child’s room and with your other first aid supplies. We also suggest that you read over the steps from time to time to keep your skills up-to-date.

Before giving CPR to a baby or child

  1. Check the scene and the child. Make sure the scene is safe, then tap the child on the shoulder and say loudly, “Are you OK?” to ensure that he or she needs help. For infants, brush the bottom of the foot to elicit a response.
  2. Call 911. If the child does not respond, call 911, then administer approximately 2 minutes of care.
  • If you’re alone with the child or infant, administer 2 minutes of care, then call 911.
  • If the child or infant does respond, call 911 to report any life-threatening conditions and obtain consent to give care. Check the child from head to toe and ask questions to find out what happened.
  1. Open the airway. With the child lying on his or her back, tilt the head back slightly and lift the chin.
  2. Check for breathing. Listen carefully, for no more than 10 seconds, for sounds of breathing. (Occasional gasps aren’t breathing.) Infants typically have periodic breathing, so changes in breathing pattern are normal.
  3. Deliver 2 rescue breaths if the child or infant isn’t breathing. With the head tilted back slightly and the chin lifted, pinch the child’s nose shut, make a complete seal by placing your mouth over the child’s mouth and breathe into the child’s mouth twice. For infants, use your mouth to make a complete seal over the infant’s mouth and nose, then blow in for one second to make the chest clearly rise. Then, deliver two rescue breaths.
  4. Begin CPR. If the child or baby is unresponsive to the rescue breaths, begin CPR.

Administering CPR to a baby or child

  1. Kneel beside the baby or child.
  2. Push hard, push fast.
  • For infants, use 2 fingers to deliver 30 quick compressions that are each about 1½ inches deep.
  • For children, place the heel of one hand on the center of the chest, then place the heel of the other hand on top of the first hand, and lace your fingers together. Deliver 30 quick compressions that are each about 2 inches deep.
  1. Give 2 rescue breaths (see above).
  2. Keep going. Continue these baby or child CPR steps until:
  • you see obvious signs of life, such as breathing
  • an AED (automated external defibrillator) is ready to use
  • another trained responder or EMS professional can take over
  • you’re too exhausted to continue
  • the scene becomes unsafe

What to do when your baby is choking

As well as their baby not breathing, choking is another fear for many parents. Babies easily can choke on food and toys, slip under the water in the tub or a pool, and get caught in drawstrings, elastics and curtain cords.

To know what to do if your baby is choking, we recommend the BabyCenter’s step-by-step illustrated guide, reviewed by health and safety services experts at the American Red Cross.

To learn more about CPR for babies and children

To see child and baby CPR steps performed, watch the American Red Cross child and infant CPR videos. For online, in person, and blended training courses on child, infant and adult CPR, visit the American Red Cross CPR Training Page. To find a class in your area, visit the Red Cross website or call 800-733-2767 (800-RED-CROSS).

For more information on CPR for your baby or child, please come see us

If you’d like to know more about how to perform CPR on your baby or child and when it’s needed, make an appointment with Westchester Health Pediatrics to see one of our pediatricians. We’ll go through all the steps with you, demonstrate how and when to administer CPR, and answer any questions you may have. Our #1 goal is to help you raise a happy, healthy toddler and for you to feel confident as a parent. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

Make an appt

By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, Lead Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

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About the Author: ML Ball