What is Infant CPR?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 07 March 2020
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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques for very young children and babies are known as infant CPR. This is different than normal CPR in that both the baby's mouth and nostrils are covered by the other person's mouth, and the chest compressions are done with fingers, instead of the palm of the hand. Infant CPR is often practiced in CPR classes, and those who are CPR certified should have at least some familiarity with CPR for both infants and adults. As with all types of CPR, the technique for infants should only be used until professional help arrives.

Those who regularly spend time with young children, including both daycare workers and medical professionals, often take the time to make sure they truly understand infant CPR. In many cases, those working in these occupations will be required to have certification in the technique. New parents, and babysitters may also find learning the technique to be beneficial, so as to be better prepared if an emergency situation should ever arise.

Infant CPR should generally only be practiced on those children less than a year of age. After that point, the head of the child and the bone structure are large enough that a modified adult method can be used with no problems. The modified adult method for toddlers and other young children requires using only one hand for chest compressions.


The initial steps for infant CPR are to shout, and tap the child gently. This will ensure the child is not responding to outside stimuli. Rubbing the feet can often be a good way to determine if there is any response in a baby as well. If no response is seen, it is then time to make sure the airway is cleared by slightly tilting the head back.

For babies who are not breathing, cover the infant's mouth and nose, and provide two gentle breaths, watching the chest to make sure it rises and falls. Let the air come back out, and offer one more breath. This should closely simulate normal breathing. If there is still no response, chest compressions should be started.

Doing chest compressions using infant CPR requires using two or three fingers. These fingers should be placed slightly below the nipples, in the direct center of the baby's chest. At this point, 30 compressions should be done. If this does not help, repeat the breathing and compression steps.

Any time infant CPR is needed is by definition an emergency situation. Another adult or responsible person should be calling 911 while the other person is performing CPR. If the adult is alone, then he or she should call as quickly as possible, and keep performing the CPR steps until help arrives. Always be sure to listen to any instructions given by the emergency dispatcher as well.



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