Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for Infants

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Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (car dee oh PULL mon air ee ree SUS i TA shun) is a combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing. Mouth-to-mouth breathing sends oxygen to the lungs, and compressions move blood from the heart to the body.

diagram of heart and lungs inside the bodyHow the Lungs Work

Air is breathed in (inhaled) through the nose and mouth. The air goes through the windpipe and into the large airways of the lungs. It then goes into the small airways and into the air sacs.

Air is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. Oxygen, which we need to live, goes from the lungs into the blood. Carbon dioxide goes from the blood into the lungs and then into the air when we breathe out (exhale).

How the Heart Works

The heart is under the breastbone (sternum) and slightly left of the center of the chest (Pictures 1 and 2). Its purpose is to pump blood to the lungs and to the body.

The heart has 4 chambers (2 atria and 2 ventricles). The right side of the heart receives blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs. Oxygen is picked up in the lungs and the blood returns to the left side of the heart. The blood is then pumped throughout the body. This process is repeated about 100 times a minute.

What Happens if a Baby Stops Breathing or the Heart Stops Beating

If a baby stops breathing, he or she is not getting the oxygen needed to maintain life. If breathing stops, the heart will also soon stop. YOU MUST ACT IMMEDIATELY by: 1) Pumping the baby's heart with your hand (compressing); and 2) Breathing your air into the baby's lungs (ventilating). There could be damage to the baby's brain and body if he does not get the needed oxygen within a few minutes.

How to do Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

If you think the baby is not breathing:

  1. Check to see if the baby will respond to you. Tap the baby gently. Gently shake his shoulders to see if he will move.
  2. If the baby does not respond, call out for someone to help you. If you are alone in the house, do not leave the baby to make a phone call at this time.
  3. Turn the baby flat on his back on a hard surface.
  4. Look at baby’s face and chest to see if baby is breathing. Look for at least 5 seconds, but no more than 10 seconds (See page 3, Step 1).
  5. If baby is not breathing, remove clothes from his chest.
  6. Locate the proper position for chest compressions. To do this, draw an imaginary line between the nipples to find the middle of the breastbone. Place the index finger of one hand on the imaginary line on the breastbone (See page 3, Step 2).
  7. Place the middle and ring fingers just below that line on the breastbone and lift the index finger from the breastbone. (Compressions are done with two fingers right below the imaginary line.) Push down on the breastbone 1½ inches toward the backbone. Compress the infant’s chest 30 times (at a rate of 100 compressions per minute).
  8. After you have compressed the chest 30 times, open the baby's airway for mouth-tomouth breathing using the head lift-chin lift method (See 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 (Picture 3). Be careful not to close the baby's mouth completely. Tilt the head just until the nose is aimed at the ceiling. Do not tilt the head too far back because this may close the baby's airway).
  9. Give 2 breaths (See page 3, Step 4). To do this, place your mouth over both the baby's mouth and nose to form an airtight seal. Breathe in only enough air to make the baby's chest rise (Picture 5). Since the baby's lungs are small, only small puffs of air are needed to fill the lungs.
  10. Repeat 30 compressions and 2 breaths for a total of 5 times.
  11. After 5 sets of compressions and breaths, stop and look to see if the infant is breathing on his own. If there are no signs of breathing, continue CPR until help arrives. If you are alone, call 911 now, and then resume CPR until help arrives.

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.

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

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 Infants (PDF)

HH-II-59 8/81, Revised 1/14, Copyright 1981, Nationwide Children's Hospital