Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for Children 1 to Puberty

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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (car dee oh PULL mon air ee ree SUS I TA shun) is a combination of chest pumping (compressions) which moves blood from the heart to the body, and mouth-to-mouth breathing which sends oxygen to the lungs.

How the lungs and heart work

The lungs’ purpose is to breathe in (inhale) air that is made of oxygen, which we need to live. The heart pumps the blood to the lungs and to the body.

The right side of the heart receives blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs. While in the lungs, the blood absorbs oxygen and then returns to the left side of the heart. The blood with the oxygen is then pumped throughout the body. Then, when the body takes all the oxygen needed to live, the used blood returns to the lungs with carbon dioxide, which is the air we breathe out (exhale).

If the child stops breathing or the heart stops beating

If your child stops breathing, he or she is not getting the oxygen needed to stay alive. If breathing stops, the heart will also soon stop.


  • Pumping the child's heart with your hand (compressing).
  • Breathing air into the child’s lungs (ventilating).

How to Do Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

If you think the child is not breathing:

  1. Check to see if the child will respond to you. Tap him gently and shake his shoulders to see if he will move.
  2. Call the child by name and ask, "Are you OK?"
  3. If the child does not respond, call out for someone to call 911 or use your cell phone to call 911 and put it on ‘Speakerphone’ while you start CPR.
  4. Place the child on the floor. (CPR must be performed on a hard surface to be work.)
  5. Turn the child on his back.
  6. Look at child’s face and chest to see if he or she is breathing. Look for at least 5 seconds but no more than 10 seconds.
  7. Remove clothing from child’s chest.
  8. Place the heel of your hand on the lower half of the breastbone between the nipples. Using one hand, compress the child’s heart 30 times by pressing the breastbone in about 2 inches (see chart on page 3, step 2). You can use both hands if you need. It will feel like you are pushing hard. Let the chest come back to its normal position after each compression. Compressions are done fast at a rate of 100 per minute.
  9. After you have compressed the chest 30 times, open the child's airway for mouth-to-mouth breathing, using the head tilt-chin lift method (see chart on page 3, step 3). Tip the head back with one hand on the forehead. Use the tips of the fingers of your other hand to lift the chin upward. Be careful not to close the child's mouth all the way.
  10. Give 2 breaths to the child (see chart on page 3, step 4). To do this, pinch the child's nose and cover the child's mouth with your mouth to form an airtight seal. Breathe in only enough air to make the child's chest rise. Remove your mouth after each breath and let the air come out. Since the child's lungs are small, they need less air to fill than an adult’s lungs.
  11. Repeat 30 compressions and 2 breaths for a total of 5 times.
  12. If you still have not called 911 because you are alone and did not have a cell phone, call 911 after 5 sets of compressions and breaths. Then, resume CPR until help arrives. If help is already on the way and the child is not moving or breathing, continue CPR.

IMPORTANT: You must practice CPR on a mannequin (doll) with a nurse to be sure you are doing it correctly. This should be done before you leave the hospital with your child.

NOTE: If you wish to become certified in CPR, contact the American Heart Association or the Red Cross in your community.

Resources: Guidelines 2010 for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, American Heart Association.

Quick Reference for CPR

(Tape to a wall in a suitable place.)

(Breaths per minute_________________ Compressions per minute__________________)

 steps to performing cpr

Emergency Phone Numbers

Fill in the phone numbers, copy them, and tape them by your telephone:

Emergency Squad:_____________________________ Doctor:______________________________
Other:_____________________________ Other:_____________________________

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation CPR for Children 1 to Puberty (PDF)

HH-II-47 10/83, Revised 12/17 Copyright 1983, Nationwide Children's Hospital