Performing CPR on infants requires a combination of rescue breaths and chest compressions. For the purposes of CPR, a baby is defined as any child under the age of one.
When to perform CPR on an infant
CPR should only be performed if your baby has stopped breathing and has no pulse. The American Heart Association now recommends starting with chest compressions right away on an unresponsive child instead of doing mouth to mouth resuscitation first as was previously recommended.
Checking a baby for a pulse
A baby’s pulse can be difficult to find. The best place to look for it is in the artery which is in the baby’s arm. Check the inside of the arm just above the elbow crease. It is usually found on the side of the arm opposite of the thumb. Use two fingers and feel the area until you locate it. This is easier if you keep the baby’s arm straight.
CPR for babies: Performing chest compressions on an infant in 3 easy steps
To perform chest compressions on a baby, you are going to use your index and middle fingers only, as opposed to your whole hand.
Step 1: Place your fingers in the middle of your baby’s sternum, at the center of their chest. If you imagine drawing a straight line between her nipples, this is the area on your baby’s sternum where your fingers should be placed. Line your top finger up with this imaginary line so that you are pressing just below the nipples.
Step 2: Firmly and quickly push in with your fingers on their chest. You want to try to indent their chest compartment around an inch and a half. It is this compression that pumps the heart; if you do too little, you’re not actually compressing the heart to keep blood circulating.
Step 3: Do this 30 times in quick succession before giving one rescue breath. Repeat this process until paramedics arrive or your baby is resuscitated.
Practicing CPR for infants
It helps to go through the motions of performing CPR on your own baby, so that you are ready should the moment arise. However, DO NOT PERFORM ACTUAL CHEST COMPRESSIONS OR BLOW AIR INTO YOUR INFANT, merely practice the routine. Strip them of their shirt and run through the process several times. Get good at locating their pulse. You can even practice cupping your mouth over their face to create an airtight seal (so long as your baby is not distressed by this; many will find it amusing), just stop short of performing the actual procedure. CPR is a medical procedure that should only be done in an emergency.