CPR for Infants and Children

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation for infants (birth to 1 year) and children (1 to 8 years) is similar to that for adults, but there are a few important differences. They are ad follows:

Be careful when handling an infant. Don’t tilt the head back too far. An infant’s neck bends so easily that if the head is tilted back too far, the breathing passages may be blocked instead of opened.

If an infant isn’t breathing, don’t try to pinch the nose shut. Cover both the mouth and nose with your mouth and breathe slowly (1.0 to 1.5 seconds per breath). Use enough volume and pressure to make the chest rise. With a small child, pinch the nose, cover the mouth, and breathe the same as for an infant.

Check pulse. In an infant, check for a pulse by feeling on the inside of the upper arm midway between the elbow and the shoulder. Check for the pulse in a small child the same way you would in an adult.

Assessment and Activation
If you don’t get a response from an infant or child, send someone to call your local emergency medical service and begin CPR. If you’re alone, do one minute of CPR before leaving to call for help. Return to the victim and continue CPR until help (EMS) arrives.

Chest compressions. In infants and small children, use only one hand for compression. You can slip your other hand under the back of an infant to give firm support.

For infants, use only the tips of the middle and ring fingers to compress the chest at the sternum. A summary of information is given in the table below. Depress the sternum between 1/2 to 1 inch at a rate of at least 100 times a minute.

For small children, use only the heel of one hand (see table for position). Depress the sternum between 1 and 1 1/2 inches, depending on the child’s size. The rate should be 80 to 100 times a minute.

In the case of both infants and small children, give breaths during a pause after every fifth chest compression. CPR for children over 8 years old is the same as for adults.

CPR for Children






Infant (birth to 1 year) Tips of middle and ring fingers One finger’s width below line between nipples (be sure not to depress the tip of the sternum) 1/2 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) 5 compressions to 1 full breath; at least 100 compressions per minute.
Child (1 to 8 years) Heel of hand Sternum (same as adults) 1 to 1/2 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) 5 compressions to 1 full breath; 80 to 100 compressions per minute

Airway: Is the victim unresponsive? If so, shout for help, position the child, and open the airway.
Breathing: Check for breathing. If there’s no breathing, give 2 full breaths. Look for chest rise, listen for sounds of breathing, feel for breath on your cheek
Circulation: If the victim still isn’t breathing, attempt to check the carotid pulse for a few seconds. If there’s no pulse or you can’t locate the pulse and the child is still unresponsive, begin 1 minute of CPR. Then leave to activate the local EMS system or send someone else to activate the local emergency number while you perform CPR. Continue to do CPR until help (EMS) arrives.

Alternate compressions and rescue breathing at the proper ratio.

  • For adults and children over 8 years old the ratio is 15 compressions to 2 full breaths at a rate of 80 to 100
    compressions per minute.
  • For children 1 to 8 years old the proper ratio is 5 compressions to 1 full breath at a rate of 80 to 100 compressions
    per minute.
  • For infants the proper ratio is 5 compressions to 1 full breath at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute.

Waiting for Help
If an individual doesn’t regain consciousness, keep CPR going for at least an hour
whether it’s a child or an adult. In a group, take turns. Don’t stop until medical help

Important Note:

In 2005, new CPR guidelines were published by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR), agreed at the 2005 International Consensus Conference on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science. The primary goal of these changes was to simplify CPR for lay rescuers and healthcare providers alike, to maximize the potential for early resuscitation. The important changes for 2005 were:

  • A universal compression-ventilation ratio (30:2) recommended for all single rescuers of infant (less than one year old), child (1 year old to puberty), and adult (puberty and above) victims (excluding newborns). The primary difference between the age groups is that with adults the rescuer uses two hands for thechest compressions, while with children it is only one, and with infants only two fingers (index and middle fingers). While this simplification has been introduced, it has not been universally accepted, and especially amongst healthcare professionals, protocols may still vary.
  • The removal of the emphasis on lay rescuers assessing for pulse or signs of circulation for an unresponsive adult victim, instead taking the absence of normal breathing as the key indicator for commencing CPR.
  • The removal of the protocol in which lay rescuers provide rescue breathing without chest compressions for an adult victim, with all cases such as these being subject to CPR.

Research has shown that lay personnel cannot accurately detect a pulse in about 40% of cases and cannot accurately discern the absence of pulse in about 10%. The pulse check step has been removed from the CPR procedure completely for lay persons and de-emphasized for healthcare professionals.

Download the  Highlights of the 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care

Child CPR Demo Video

What Do You Think?