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 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 the 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 baby stops breathing or the heart stops beating

If a baby 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 baby is not breathing:

  1. Check to see if the baby will respond to you. Tap the heel of the baby’s foot and call his or her name to see if he responds.
  2. If the baby 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.
  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 chart on page 3, step 1).
  5. If baby is not breathing, remove clothes from his or her chest.
  6. Find the right position for chest compressions by drawing an imaginary line between the nipples to find the middle of the breastbone.
  7. Place 2 fingers just below that line on the breastbone and push down hard on the breastbone 1½ inches toward the backbone. Let the chest come back to its normal position after each compression. Compressions are done fast at a rate of 100 per minute.
  8. After you have compressed the chest 30 times, open the baby's airway for mouth-to-mouth breathing using the head lift-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 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 chart on 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. Since the baby's lungs are small, only small puffs of air are needed to fill them.
  10. Repeat 30 compressions and 2 breaths for a total of 5 times.
  11. 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.

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

Resources: Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Emergency Cardiovascular Care 2010, 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 Infants (PDF)

HH-II-59 8/81, Revised 12/17, Copyright 1981, Nationwide Children's Hospital