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Infant CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)

CPR is a lifesaving method used when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. 

CPR should be done if the infant has the following symptoms:

  • Is not breathing
  • Has no pulse
  • Is unconscious

Time is very important when dealing with an unconscious infant who is not breathing. Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if a child's blood flow stops. Therefore, you must continue CPR until the child's heartbeat and breathing return, or until trained medical help arrives.

Check for Responsiveness

1. Gently shake or tap the infant. See if the infant moves or makes a noise. Shout, “Are you OK?”

2. If there is no response, shout for help. Send someone to call 911. Do not leave the infant yourself to call 911 until you have performed CPR for about two minutes.

3. Carefully place the infant on their back. If there is a chance the infant has a spinal injury, two people should move the infant to prevent the head and neck from twisting.

Start Chest Compressions

4. Perform chest compressions:

  • Place two fingers on the breastbone—in the middle of the chest, just below the nipples. Make sure not to press at the very end of the breastbone.
  • Keep your other hand on the infant’s forehead, keeping the head tilted back.
  • Press down on the infant’s chest so that it compresses about one-third to one-half the depth of the chest.
  • Give 30 chest compressions. Each time, let the chest rise completely. These compressions should be FAST and hard with no pausing. Count the 30 compressions quickly: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, off.”

Infant Not Breathing

5. Open the airway. Lift up the chin with one hand. At the same time, push down on the forehead with the other hand.

6. Look, listen and feel for breathing. Place your ear close to the infant’s mouth and nose. Watch for chest movement. Feel for breath on your cheek.

7. If the infant is not breathing:

  • Cover the infant’s mouth and nose tightly with your mouth (or cover just the nose, and hold the mouth shut).
  • Keep the chin lifted and head tilted.
  • Give two breaths. Each breath should take about a second and make the chest rise.

8. Continue CPR (30 chest compressions followed by two breaths, then repeat) for about two minutes.

9. After about two minutes of CPR, if the infant still does not have normal breathing, coughing or any movement, leave the infant to call 911.

10. Repeat rescue breathing and chest compressions until the infant recovers or help arrives.

If the infant starts breathing again, place them in the recovery position: Place the infant face down over your arm so that the head is slightly lower than the rest of the body; support the head and neck with your hand; and keep the mouth and nose clear. Periodically recheck for breathing until help arrives.

Do not:

  • If you think the child has a spinal injury, pull the jaw forward without moving the head or neck. Do NOT let the mouth close.
  • If the child has signs of normal breathing, coughing or movement, do NOT begin chest compressions. Doing so may cause the heart to stop beating.
  • Unless you are a health professional, do NOT waste valuable time checking for a pulse. 

Learn what to do if your infant is choking.