Learning About Rescue Breathing and CPR for Babies Under 1 Year

Where to position hands for doing CPR chest compressions on a baby

Your Care Instructions

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is pushing down on a person's chest and breathing into his or her mouth. It's used in emergencies when someone's heart stops beating, or when he or she is not breathing normally (may be gasping for breath) or is not breathing at all.

Most babies never need rescue breathing or CPR. But if they do, the best thing you can do is be prepared. Talk to your doctor or take a class to learn how to do rescue breathing and CPR, and then use these instructions as a reference.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are in many public places. Before you use an AED, follow all the steps for CPR.

To use an AED, place it next to the baby and turn it on. The AED will tell you what to do next.

How to do rescue breathing and CPR

Step 1: Check to see if the baby is conscious.

  1. Tap or gently shake the baby to see if he or she responds. But do not shake a baby who might have a neck or back injury. That could make it worse.
  2. If the baby does not respond, send someone to call 911 (if you are not alone). Then start CPR. But if you are alone, start CPR. Do CPR for 2 minutes. Then call 911.

Step 2: Start chest compressions.

  1. Picture a line connecting the nipples, and place two fingers on the baby's breastbone just below that line. Press the chest down at least one-third of its depth.
  2. If you are not trained in rescue breathing, give at least 100 chest compressions a minute (between 1 and 2 times a second). If you are trained in rescue breathing, give 30 compressions, then 2 rescue breaths. Rescue breathing may be more important to do for babies than adults.
  3. If you are not giving rescue breaths, keep giving at least 100 chest compressions a minute until help arrives or the baby is breathing normally. If you are giving rescue breaths, keep repeating the cycle of 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths until help arrives or the baby is breathing normally.

Step 3: Rescue breaths.

  1. To do rescue breaths, put one hand on the baby's forehead, and push with your palm to tilt the baby's head back.
  2. Take a normal breath (not a deep one), and place your mouth over the baby's mouth and nose, making a tight seal. Blow into the baby's mouth for 1 second, and watch to see if the baby's chest rises.
  3. If the chest does not rise, tilt the baby's head again, and give another breath.
  4. Between rescue breaths, put your cheek near the baby's mouth and nose to feel whether air is moving out.

If the baby is breathing, watch for any changes until emergency services arrive.

Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have questions about how to do rescue breathing and CPR.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your health care provider if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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