Skip to main content

Lay Person CPR On Infants


Lay person cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

is an emergency procedure for an infant who is 1 month to 1 year old. A lay person is someone who is not a trained healthcare worker. An infant may need CPR because his or her heart stopped beating or he or she stopped breathing. This may be due to an accident, injury, or medical condition. CPR combines chest compressions with rescue breathing. A chest compression means you put pressure on and off the infant's chest. Rescue breathing means you give breaths to the infant through his or her mouth and nose.

Important things to remember about CPR on infants:

  • Start CPR before you call 911 if you are alone when you find the infant. If you are with another person, one person can start CPR and the other can call 911 or go for help.
  • Learn the steps used to give CPR to infants by remembering C-A-B. This stands for chest C ompressions, A irway, and rescue B reathing. Do 30 compressions immediately. Then open the infant's airway. Hold the airway open and give 2 rescue breaths. A cycle is 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths.
  • Do chest compressions even if you cannot give rescue breaths. Chest compressions alone make it more likely that the infant will live than if you do nothing at all.

What to do if you find an infant who is not breathing normally:

  • Make sure the area is safe to enter, and approach the infant. Move the infant only if the area is dangerous, such as in a fire.
  • Kneel beside the infant. Look to see if his or her head, neck, or back may be hurt. Carefully turn the infant onto his or her back while you support his or her head and neck. Keep the infant's body straight as you turn him or her.

  • Begin CPR if the infant is not breathing or is only gasping. Continue CPR until he or she responds, help arrives, or an automated external defibrillator (AED) becomes available. An AED is a device that gives a person's heart a shock if it is needed. AEDs are often kept in public areas and are usually mounted to a wall.
    AED (Automatic External Defibrillator)
  • Continue CPR for 2 minutes or 5 cycles. Then call 911 , or send someone to call for help. Stay on the telephone with the operator until he or she tells you to hang up.

How to give chest compressions to an infant:

Chest compressions press the heart between the spine and sternum (breastbone). This forces blood out of the heart and to the infant's brain and body.

  • Kneel beside the infant's chest. Put the pads of 2 fingers where the infant's ribs meet in the middle of his or her chest, between the nipples. This area is called the sternum.

  • With the pads of your fingers, press straight down on the infant's sternum 1½ inches (4 centimeters). This should be at least ⅓ the depth of the infant's chest.
  • Do not push your hands forward when you press down. Go only up and down. The compressions should be constant and equal. This means that it should take the same amount of time to press down as it does to go back up. Allow the chest to relax completely between compressions. This allows blood to come back into the heart before you compress again. Leave your hands on the infant's chest in the correct hand position between compressions.
  • Do 30 chest compressions at a rate of at least 100 to 120 every minute (2 per second). Push hard and push fast. Hard, fast compressions are more likely to keep the infant's brain and heart alive. Count the compressions out loud to help you do them at a steady, even speed.

How to open an infant's airway:

  • Put 1 hand on the infant's forehead and press firmly backward to tilt his or her head back. Do not place your hand on the back of his or her neck to tilt his or her head.
  • Lift the infant's chin with your other hand. Hold his or her mouth open. Do not press deeply into the soft tissue under his or her chin, because this can close his or her airway.

  • Look into the infant's mouth for something that may be blocking the airway at the back of the throat. Examples are food and small toys. If you see something that looks easy to get, carefully scoop it out with your finger.

How to give rescue breaths to an infant:

  • Take a deep breath and put your lips around the infant's nose and mouth, making an airtight seal. If your mouth is too small to cover both the infant's mouth and nose, pinch his or her nose closed. Cover his or her mouth with yours.

  • Give 2 breaths (1 second for each breath) into the infant. Do not give large breaths. Do not breathe hard or fast. Take a normal breath for yourself after each breath that you give.
  • The infant's chest will rise each time you give a rescue breath if his or her airway is open. You may need to change his or her head position to reopen his or her airway. If you still cannot get air in, the airway may be blocked by an object. Look again to see if you find an object you can remove.

What you can do to help prevent respiratory and cardiac arrest in infants:

  • Do not leave small objects within the reach of infants. Infants tend to put small objects into their mouths. Examples include batteries, coins, marbles, buttons, balloons, and small toys or toy parts. Do not allow an infant to hold anything small enough to fit through a toilet paper roll. This includes foods such as hot dogs, grapes, nuts, popcorn, and hard candy.
  • Do not leave plastic bags within reach of an infant. An infant may put a plastic bag over his or her head.
  • Keep drapery and extension cords out of an infant's reach. Do not put any type of cord or string around an infant's neck. Some examples include cords or strings with pacifiers or jewelry attached to them.
  • Do not leave an infant alone in or near water. This includes a pool, bathtub, or pail of water.
  • Keep an infant secured in a car safety seat while you are driving. Never leave an infant in a car alone.
  • Lay an infant on his or her back to sleep. An infant may be at more risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) if he or she sleeps on his or her stomach.
    Back to Sleep
  • Do not leave an infant alone on a high surface, such as a changing table.
  • Keep cleaning supplies and other harmful products out of an infant's reach and locked up tightly.
  • Do not smoke near an infant.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Lay Person CPR On Infants (Ambulatory Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.