Infant CPR: How to Perform CPR on Infant (0-1 year old)

Last updated:
May 24, 2023

Infant CPR is a life-saving technique used to revive and sustain the circulation and breathing of infants who have experienced sudden cardiac arrest or stopped breathing. This critical procedure involves a series of steps performed in order to provide immediate care to infants in emergency situations.

In this article, we will explore the key aspects of infant CPR, including the steps, proper techniques, and guidelines to ensure the well-being and safety of infants in critical situations.


Why Is Infant CPR Important?

Infant CPR is of utmost importance as it can be the difference between life and death for a baby in distress. Infants are vulnerable to sudden cardiac arrest or respiratory emergencies, often due to choking, drowning, or other medical conditions. Performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation promptly and effectively during these critical moments can help restore circulation and oxygenation, giving the infant a chance at survival.

The significance of infant CPR lies in its potential to save lives. Immediate action in the form of CPR can buy precious time until professional medical help arrives. By performing chest compressions and rescue breaths, caregivers can maintain blood flow and oxygen supply to the infant's vital organs, preventing organ damage and brain injury.


In What Situations Is Infant CPR Necessary?

Infant CPR may be necessary in various emergency situations involving infants. Some common scenarios where infant CPR may be required include:

  • Unresponsiveness: When an infant is unresponsive and not reacting to stimulation.
  • Cardiac Arrest: When the infant's heart has stopped beating or is not beating effectively.
  • Breathing Difficulties: When the infant is not breathing or experiencing abnormal breathing patterns.
  • Choking: When an object or obstruction is blocking the infant's airway, preventing normal breathing.
  • Near-Drowning: When an infant has been submerged in water and is unresponsive, even if breathing has resumed.
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): In the event of an unexplained death of an infant during sleep or rest.
  • Severe Allergic Reactions: Anaphylaxis or severe allergic reactions that lead to respiratory distress or cardiac arrest.
  • Traumatic Injuries: In cases of severe trauma or accidents that result in respiratory or cardiac arrest.

Caregivers, parents, and individuals responsible for the well-being of infants should be prepared to respond appropriately in these emergency situations, knowing how to assess the situation and administer Infant CPR if needed.


How Is Infant CPR Different From CPR For Adults and Children?

Infant CPR differs from CPR for adults and children in several key aspects:

  1. Compression Technique: When performing CPR on infants, two fingers are used for chest compressions instead of the heel of the hand. This is due to the smaller size and delicate structure of an infant's chest.
  2. Compression Depth: The compression depth in Infant CPR is approximately 1 1/2 inches (about 4 cm). It is important to avoid excessive force to prevent injury.
  3. Compression Rate: The compression rate for infant CPR is faster compared to adults and children. It is recommended to perform chest compressions at a rate of 120 compressions per minute.
  4. Ventilation Technique: When giving rescue breaths to infants, the rescuer covers both the infant's mouth and nose with their mouth and provides gentle puffs of air. The amount of air delivered should be sufficient to cause a visible chest rise.
  5. Compression-to-Ventilation Ratio: The ratio for infant CPR is 30 compressions to 2 breaths when performed by a single rescuer. If there are two rescuers, the ratio changes to 15 compressions to 2 breaths.

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What Safety Precautions Should Be Taken Before Starting Infant CPR?

Before starting Infant CPR, it is important to ensure the safety of both the rescuer and the infant. Here are some safety precautions to consider:

  • Scene Safety: Assess the surroundings to ensure it is safe for both you and the infant. Look out for any potential hazards such as traffic, fire, or dangerous objects. Move the infant to a safe area if necessary.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): If available, use personal protective equipment such as gloves and a face mask to minimize the risk of infection or transmission of diseases.
  • Support for the Infant's Head and Neck: When handling an infant, always provide support for their head and neck to prevent any further injury. Use gentle and careful movements when positioning the infant for CPR.
  • Clear Airways: Check for any obstructions in the infant's airway before starting CPR. If there are visible objects or substances blocking the airway, carefully remove them if possible.
  • Communicate with Bystanders: If there are other people present, communicate with them to ensure a coordinated response. Assign specific tasks such as calling emergency services or locating an AED (if available).

Remember, the safety of everyone involved is essential. If at any point the situation becomes unsafe or unmanageable, prioritize your own safety and wait for professional help to arrive.

Essential Equipment for Infant CPR

What Are The Essential Equipment For Infant CPR?

During Infant CPR, there are some essential equipment that can aid in the resuscitation process. These include:

  1. Resuscitation Mask: A pediatric-sized resuscitation mask is specifically designed for infants and provides a barrier between the rescuer and the infant's mouth and nose during rescue breaths. It helps in delivering effective breaths while minimizing the risk of contamination.
  2. Pediatric Bag-Valve-Mask (BVM) Device: A pediatric BVM device consists of a mask and a self-inflating bag that is used to deliver rescue breaths to an infant. It provides manual ventilation by compressing the bag to deliver air into the infant's lungs.
  3. Barrier Devices: Disposable gloves and face masks are important for infection control and protecting both the rescuer and the infant. They should be used to create a barrier and minimize the risk of cross-contamination during CPR.
  4. Additional Supplies: Other essential equipment may include absorbent pads or towels to maintain a dry surface, scissors for cutting clothing if necessary, and adhesive tape for securing the endotracheal tube or other advanced airway devices if used.


What Are the 5 Steps For Giving Infant CPR?

Knowing how to perform infant CPR is essential for parents, caregivers, and anyone who spends time with infants, as it can make a significant difference in saving a precious life. Here are the 5 steps for performing Infant CPR:


1. Recognizing an Infant in Need of CPR

The first step in giving Infant CPR is recognizing when they require immediate medical attention. Look for signs such as unresponsiveness, absence of normal breathing or gasping, and the presence of other life-threatening conditions like choking or near-drowning. If you identify any of these signs, it is crucial to act quickly and decisively.


2. Activating Emergency Services

Once you have determined that an infant requires CPR, immediately activate emergency services by calling your local emergency number or asking someone nearby to make the call. Provide clear and concise information about the situation, the infant's condition, and your location. Stay on the line until instructed to hang up and follow any additional instructions given by the emergency operator.


3. Positioning the Infant for CPR

Proper positioning of the infant is essential to ensure effective CPR. Lay the infant on a firm, flat surface, preferably on their back. Gently tilt their head backward, ensuring the airway is open and the chin is lifted. Take care not to hyperextend the neck, especially if there is a suspected neck or spinal injury. This position optimizes the infant's airway for the delivery of rescue breaths.

Performing Chest Compressions on an Infant


4. Performing Chest Compressions on an Infant

Chest compressions are a vital component of infant CPR. To perform chest compressions correctly, place two fingers in the center of the infant's chest just below the nipple line. Using gentle pressure, compress the chest approximately one-third to one-half of its depth at a rate of about 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Maintain a steady rhythm, allowing the chest to fully recoil between compressions.

5. Delivering Rescue Breaths to an Infant

Rescue breaths provide oxygen to the infant's lungs and help restore normal breathing. With the infant's airway properly positioned, cover their nose and mouth with your mouth to create a seal. Deliver gentle breaths lasting about one second each, watching for the rise and fall of the infant's chest. Administer two rescue breaths after every 30 chest compression.

Infant CPR rescue breathing

Can AED Be Used On Infants?

Some AED models have pediatric pads or attenuators that can be used on infants, delivering a lower energy level appropriate for their size. But standard Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) should not be used on infants under 1 year of age. AEDs are specifically designed for adults and children over 1-year-old. Infants have different physiology and require specialized care during a cardiac emergency. Instead of using an AED, infant CPR should be performed until professional medical help arrives. It is important to follow the guidelines for infant CPR, including chest compressions and rescue breaths, as outlined by recognized CPR training organizations.


What Should You Do After Performing Infant CPR?

After performing Infant CPR, it is important to continue monitoring their condition closely. Observe for any signs of improvement or changes in their responsiveness, breathing, or pulse. If the infant starts to breathe on their own and shows signs of stable circulation, place them in the recovery position to help maintain an open airway.

However, if the infant remains unresponsive or their breathing and pulse are not restored, continue providing CPR until emergency medical services (EMS) arrive. When EMS arrives, inform them about the actions taken and the infant's response. Handing over care to EMS ensures that the infant receives continued medical attention and the necessary interventions from trained professionals. Their expertise and resources can further support the infant's chances of survival and recovery.

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Recovery Position

Are There Special Considerations For infants With Medical Conditions?

Yes, there are special considerations for infants with medical conditions when it comes to Infant CPR. Infants with pre-existing medical conditions may require modifications in the CPR approach based on the specific condition and guidance from healthcare professionals. It is crucial to be aware of any known medical conditions or special needs of the infant before initiating CPR.

Additionally, caregivers or individuals performing Infant CPR should follow any specific instructions or protocols provided by the infant's healthcare provider or medical team. These instructions may include adjustments in hand placement, compression depth, or the presence of additional medical equipment or devices. Adhering to the guidance and instructions tailored to the infant's medical condition ensures that CPR is performed in the most appropriate and effective manner to maximize their chances of a positive outcome.


How Do You Perform CPR On a Choking Infant?

Performing Infant CPR on a choking infant requires prompt action and specific techniques to clear the airway obstruction. Here are the steps to perform CPR on a choking infant:

  1. Assess the situation: Check if the infant is responsive and breathing. If the infant is not responsive or not breathing or gasping, the airway may be blocked.
  2. Activate emergency services: Call for emergency assistance or ask someone nearby to do so.
  3. Positioning: Carefully lay the infant on a firm surface, such as a table or floor, with their head lower than their chest. Support the infant's head and neck while keeping their body and head aligned.
  4. Give back blows: Using the heel of your hand, give up to five back blows between the infant's shoulder blades. Use gentle force to avoid causing harm.
  5. Give chest thrusts: Place two fingers in the center of the infant's chest, just below the nipple line. Perform five chest thrusts by pushing down firmly, about one-third to one-half the depth of the infant's chest.
  6. Repeat back blows and chest thrusts: Continue alternating between back blows and chest thrusts until the object is dislodged or the infant becomes unresponsive.
  7. Begin CPR: If the infant becomes unresponsive, start CPR by following the standard CPR guidelines for infants, including chest compressions and rescue breaths.


If at any point the object is visible and easily accessible, remove it with your fingertips. If the infant becomes unresponsive, start Infant CPR immediately and continue until medical help arrives. It is essential to seek professional medical assistance as soon as possible in a choking emergency to ensure the infant's safety.


What Are The Risks Associated With Infant CPR?

While infant CPR is a life-saving technique, there are certain risks and considerations associated with its practice. Some of the risks include:

  • Injury to the infant: Performing chest compressions and rescue breaths requires applying pressure and manipulating the infant's delicate body. There is a risk of causing injury to the chest, ribs, or internal organs if excessive force is applied or the technique is not performed correctly.
  • Inadequate ventilation: Providing rescue breaths to an infant may be challenging, especially if the airway is obstructed or the technique is not done properly. Inadequate ventilation can result in insufficient oxygenation, which may impact the effectiveness of CPR.
  • Transmission of infection: Performing CPR involves coming into close contact with the infant, including their saliva or other bodily fluids. There is a small risk of transmitting infections, such as respiratory viruses or bloodborne pathogens, between the rescuer and the infant.
  • Emotional distress: Performing CPR on an infant can be emotionally distressing for the rescuer, particularly if the outcome is not favorable. It is important to consider the potential emotional impact and seek support or debriefing if needed.

To minimize these risks, it is crucial to receive proper training in infant CPR from recognized organizations and stay updated on the latest guidelines. Additionally, taking precautions such as using appropriate hand hygiene, wearing gloves, and maintaining a calm and focused mindset can help reduce the risks associated with infant CPR.


What Are the Legal Implications of Performing Infant CPR?

Performing infant CPR is generally protected under Good Samaritan laws, which provide legal protection to individuals who render aid in emergency situations. Good Samaritan laws vary by jurisdiction, so it is important for individuals to be familiar with the laws and regulations in their respective regions. These laws are in place to encourage individuals to act in emergencies without fear of legal repercussions, as long as they provide care in good faith and within their level of training.

However, it is essential to note that Good Samaritan laws may have limitations and exceptions, such as cases involving gross negligence or willful misconduct. If individuals have concerns about their rights and responsibilities when performing infant CPR, it is advisable to seek legal advice from a qualified professional to ensure they are informed and protected under the applicable laws.


Why It's Important To Learn Infant CPR?

Learning Infant CPR is particularly crucial because infants have unique physiological characteristics that require specialized techniques. Their airways are smaller and more delicate, making them susceptible to blockages or respiratory distress. By being trained in infant CPR, parents, caregivers, and anyone involved in the care of infants can be prepared to respond swiftly and effectively in emergency situations.

This knowledge not only empowers individuals to act in a time-sensitive manner but also provides peace of mind, knowing that they have the skills to potentially save a young life. Ultimately, infant CPR is an invaluable tool that ensures the well-being and safety of infants, underscoring its paramount importance in every community.

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