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Jennifer L.W. Fink
Registered Nurse

How To Do Infant CPR

Keep this step-by-step guide to baby CPR handy — just in case.

Ideally, every parent-to-be should take an infant CPR class, but let’s face it, some of us are a little, er, busy, or we’ve taken one and pregnancy brain has made us hazy on the details. Either way, consider booking a class through your local hospital or Red Cross and print out these instructions and tack them somewhere so they’re easy to grab in the event of an emergency.

Step 1: Check the scene for safety and then check baby for responsiveness
Worried your baby isn’t breathing? If baby isn’t responding to your voice and touch, try flicking the bottom of his foot with your finger. No response? Move to Step 2.

Step 2: Call for help
Turn to the person nearest you and tell them to call 911 immediately. The sooner the call is made, the sooner trained experts will be on hand.

If you’re alone, give yourself about two minutes to do CPR on baby before you call 911, since it’s important not to let a small child go long without oxygen.

Step 3: Open the airway
(It’s best if baby is on a hard surface, so go ahead and scoop him up and place him on the floor or a table if necessary.) Place one hand on baby’s forehead and tilt his head to a neutral position while pulling the bony part of his chin with two or three fingers of your other hand. Position your head just over baby’s nose and mouth and look down toward his chest. Look, listen and feel for baby’s breath. If you don’t hear or feel his breath on your face or see his chest rise, go to Step 4.

Step 4: If baby’s choking, give two breaths
If you’re certain that baby is not choking, skip rescue breaths and start chest compressions. Otherwise, place your mouth over baby’s nose _and _mouth, and give two gentle breaths to clear his airway. Keep your head turned toward his chest; watch for the chest to rise gently. If that doesn’t happen, retilt the head and give another rescue breath. If nothing, move to Step 5.

Step 5: Start chest compressions
Keep one hand on baby’s forehead to maintain an open airway. Place the pads of two or three fingers at baby’s nipple level. Slide them to the middle of the chest, just beneath the nipple line. Give 30 chest compressions. Your motion should be fast and firm enough to manually pump the heart, so aim for a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute that push baby’s chest down about an inch and a half deep. Tip: Sing the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” — it moves at about 104 beats per minute. After giving 30 chest compressions, give 2 rescue breaths.

Step 6: Keep going
Alternate compressions and breaths — 30 chest compressions, 2 breaths; 30 compressions, 2 breaths. Don’t stop CPR until you see an obvious sign that baby’s responded to your care, such as breathing or moving. Keep going until baby improves, emergency medical help arrives, an AED is ready to use, you’re too exhausted to continue or the scene becomes unsafe.

Step 7: Brush up on the basics
Read this over and review it at least every three months; that’s about the time frame in which people start to forget what they learned about infant CPR. If you take a CPR class through the American Red Cross, you’ll learn what to do if your baby is choking and get extra practice, plus access to an interactive refresher course online.

To find an infant CPR class near you, go to the American Red Cross website at or call (800) 733-2767.

**Article updated October 1, 2012 — Reviewed by Don Lauritzen, Officer, Preparedness and Health and Safety Services Communications, American Red Cross