Performing Child CPR is an activity no parent wants to do. However, children are prone to accidents that can turn into an emergency situation that requires cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
If your child stops breathing, you must start CPR straight away. Your calm, clinical demeanour and quick reaction time can save your child from brain damage and death.
Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to perform CPR on a child. We’ll discuss how to perform chest compressions, rescue breathing, and life-saving first aid for children.
What Is CPR?
CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a life-saving procedure designed to get the heart to beat again and the lungs to accept air again, reintroducing normal breathing to the patient.
Basic Life Support is the first step in most first aid courses, as adult CPR training is a must-have for every person, regardless of whether or not they wish to perform duties as a first responder.
One does not need to undergo board-certified training courses to conduct CPR, as the basics are easy and important to grasp.
However, training allows responders to gauge the amount of pressure needed to perform the movements. You wouldn’t want to break ribs or crush noses when you perform CPR on children during an emergency.
It is important to note that while the fundamental movements are the same, some adjustments must be made from adult CPR to CPR for children and infants.
If a child shows signs and symptoms listed below, then it is vital to call for emergency help and then start CPR straight away:
- Not breathing and the chest does not rise
- There is no pulse (This step is better left to the professionals)
How to Perform Infant CPR (Ages 0-1)
Infant CPR may be one of the scariest things in the world for a new parent or child carer. When done right, you can ensure the child lives a long and healthy life.
The child must start breathing again soon, as every minute they lack breath increases the risk of permanent damage and death if you do not act quickly.
Step 1: Determine Responsiveness and Call for Help
Infant CPR begins when you’re unable to detect breathing or a heartbeat. You must gently tap your child to see if they respond by cooing or crying. If they’re unresponsive, you must call for help.
It is better to have someone else in the area call emergency services. If not, go straight to chest compressions and rescue breaths for 1-2 minutes before picking up the phone.
If you know your child lacks air, you can begin with 5 rescue breaths into the child’s mouth and nose. Otherwise, it’s time for chest compressions.
Step 2: Begin Chest Compressions
It is time to start CPR when the child’s chest isn’t moving, and the child isn’t breathing. You will need to place the child in a neutral position on a flat surface to give you room to work.
Find the middle of the imaginary line between the baby’s nipples, and with two fingers just below it, perform 30 chest compressions in a steady, quick cadence (100 BPM).
Before conducting the next push, you must see the chest rise and recoil for a split second.
Step 3: Open the Airway (The Child’s Mouth)
After focusing on the heart, you must open the child’s airway to let air into their lungs. Gently tilt the head back and keep the chin lifted using your CPR hand.
Your child’s mouth and nose should be unobstructed and ready for rescue breaths.
Step 4: Conduct Rescue Breaths for Infants
Tilt the head back gently by moving the child’s forehead and chin. Then, perform a rescue breath by breathing into the child’s nose and mouth. Blow steadily until you see the chest expand.
You will need to perform two breaths before going back to compressions.
Step 5: Continue CPR Until Emergency Help Arrives
Perform CPR (30 compressions – 2 breaths) until the child starts breathing. Once that happens, place the child gently into the recovery position, careful of neck injuries.
Continue performing until paramedics arrive to stabilise the baby.
How to Perform Child/Pediatric CPR (Ages 1+)
Children’s CPR is CPR for anyone between the ages of 1 and 8, or until girls first develop breasts and boys develop body hair (puberty).
You must take great care when conducting CPR on a child. You must always be aware of their breathing ability by keeping their airway open. You must also be sure not to crush any ribs when compressing.
Step 1: Determine Responsiveness and Call for Responders
When your child is unconscious and unresponsive, you must tap them and ask them, “Hey, Hey, are you alright?” Call for help in a loud voice if they remain unconscious and prepare to perform CPR.
It is best to move the child if the area you found them in is not safe. However, you must be careful not to exacerbate any spinal injury they may have received.
Step 2: Begin Compressions on the Child’s Chest
Just like adult and infant CPR, you must find the imaginary nipple line, place the heel of your nondominant hand right below the centre of it, and conduct 30 compressions in rapid succession.
In child CPR, you must maintain a 100-120 BPM cadence, similar to ABBA’s song ‘Dancing Queen.’ Count 1 to 30 out loud before stopping to perform rescue breaths.
Step 3: Open the Airway (Keep Mouth Open)
Tilt their head back by keeping a hand on the child’s chin and another on their forehead. Move carefully to avoid spinal injuries. Give your child the best possible airway path.
After you tilt the head back, they should be able to start getting air in.
Step 4: Look for Signs of Breathing
The sign of stopping CPR on children is when you detect a breath. This should be easier to see with the head tilted. Check for a pulse if you know how or keep your ear close to the chest to hear their heart beating.
If you notice breathing, stop CPR and place the patient in the recovery position until help arrives.
Step 5: Perform Rescue Breaths for Children
If compressions fail and they’re still not receiving air, you must proceed to rescue breathing. You will need to squeeze on the soft part of the nose to keep the nose closed.
Keeping the nose closed and mouth open will prevent air escaping and funnel all of your efforts into their airway. You will then need to perform mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths.
You will need to pump air from your lungs to the child’s until you see the chest rise completely. You will need to perform 2 breaths until the chest rises on its own.
If it doesn’t, you must repeat Step 2 onwards.
Step 6: Continue Compressions until Emergency Help Arrives
Child CPR needs to continue until you detect breath, in which case, you can put the child in the recovery position. However, you may need to continue until medics arrive.
If you have access to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), you can follow the instructions it blares, allowing you to shock the patient and then perform compressions immediately after.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some important questions that every parent needs to be answered regarding child CPR. It would help if you memorised the answers to keep your children safe and healthy.
What Is the Ratio for CPR in a Child?
Children are smaller and more sensitive than adults. You must be considerate of their frailty when you begin CPR. A child only needs one hand’s worth of pressure. You should push down only one-third depth of the chest.
Infants require even less force. You only need two fingers (index finger and middle on the one hand or both thumbs) to conduct 30 chest compressions per set.
When performing CPR on a child, you must conduct five rescue breaths before you perform 30 compressions, then draw two breaths immediately after. Repeat the 30-2 ratio until help arrives.
How Many Chest Compressions for a Child?
The ratio of 30 chest compressions for every 2 mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths is the same whether performing CPR on a child, infant, or adult. It must be performed at 100 to 120 BPM.
This cadence is consistent with the beat of the BeeGees’ hit song ‘Stayin’ Alive.’ You must follow the cadence and pump 30 times in rapid yet consistent succession.
There is no fixed number of sets that you should do 30 compressions, as each case will yield different results. You must perform compressions until you notice breathing or until EMS appears.
When Should You Contact a Medical Professional?
You should contact a health professional or emergency help immediately after discovering your child is unconscious. If someone else is with you, they must contact emergency services while you conduct CPR.
If you are alone, however, you should shout loudly for someone to call EMS and perform CPR for 2 minutes before reaching for a mobile phone yourself.
This will buy you enough time to make the call before performing CPR again.
Your goal is to perform mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and chest compressions until the paramedics arrive. Once they arrive, they can stabilise the child for transport to the hospital.
In a life-threatening emergency, you must be willing and able to perform child CPR from start to finish until your child recovers, breathing normally, or an ambulance arrives.
When in doubt, it is important to stay calm and act decisively. You must restart your child’s heart by pumping their chest and getting air into their lungs via rescue breathing.