How to Perform Infant CPR: Important Things You Need to Know

Infant CPR

Infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a crucial skill that every parent, caregiver, or anyone who spends time around infants should learn. In emergencies such as sudden cardiac arrest or choking, knowing how to perform CPR can be the difference between life and death for an infant. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the essential steps and techniques of infant CPR, ensuring you’re equipped with the knowledge and confidence to act swiftly in critical situations.


Why is Infant CPR Important?

Every minute counts during a cardiac or respiratory emergency. When an infant’s heart stops beating or their breathing ceases, blood flow to vital organs is interrupted, leading to rapid cell death. Performing Infant CPR helps circulate oxygenated blood throughout the body, buying precious time until medical professionals arrive.

Even if you successfully restart the infant’s heart and breathing, brain damage can still occur due to the lack of oxygen. However, by acting quickly and performing Infant CPR effectively, you can significantly increase the baby’s chances of survival and minimize potential long-term complications.

When to Perform Infant CPR on a Baby

Knowing when to initiate Infant CPR is critical. Here are the two main scenarios where immediate action is necessary:

Unresponsive and Not Breathing

This is the most clear-cut situation for performing CPR. If you find an infant who is completely unresponsive and not breathing at all, don’t hesitate – begin CPR right away. Signs of unresponsiveness include:

  • No reaction to any stimuli, even loud noises or gentle touches.

  • The infant’s face appears limp and expressionless.

  • There are no movements or muscle twitches.

In these situations, every second counts. The lack of breathing quickly leads to oxygen deprivation, which can cause irreversible brain damage and death within minutes.

Not Breathing Normally

Sometimes, an infant may not be completely unresponsive, but their breathing pattern indicates a serious issue. If you notice the following signs, CPR may be necessary:

  • Gasping or labored breaths: The infant is struggling to breathe, with deep, infrequent gasps or rapid, shallow breaths.

  • Chest not rising and falling: Observe the infant’s chest for even, regular movements. If the chest isn’t moving or has a paradoxical movement (where the belly moves in instead of the chest), it’s a sign of respiratory distress.

  • Changes in skin color: Look for pale or bluish skin color around the lips, tongue, or nostrils. This indicates a lack of oxygen reaching the bloodstream.

  • Wheezing or noisy breathing: A high-pitched whistling sound during breathing could be a sign of a blocked airway.

If you suspect an infant might need CPR due to breathing difficulties, it’s always better to start CPR immediately rather than waiting for the situation to worsen. By acting swiftly, you can potentially save the baby’s life and minimize the risk of long-term complications.

Additional Signs to Watch For

  • Seizures: If an infant is experiencing a seizure, especially a prolonged one, it can disrupt their breathing and necessitate CPR.

  • Choking: If a choking hazard is suspected, perform the recommended choking interventions for infants first. However, if the choking isn’t relieved and the infant becomes unresponsive or stops breathing, initiate CPR.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Perform Infant CPR

Assess the Situation: In emergency situations, maintaining a calm and collected demeanor is essential. Assess the environment for any potential hazards or dangers before approaching the infant. Clearing the area of obstacles ensures both your safety and that of the infant.

Check Responsiveness: When approaching the infant, gently stimulate them by tapping their shoulder and calling their name in a clear, firm voice. Observe for any signs of movement or responsiveness, such as blinking or vocalization. If the infant does not respond, proceed to the next step.

Open the Airway: Positioning the infant correctly is crucial for maintaining an open airway. Lay the infant on their back on a firm, flat surface. Gently tilt their head back, ensuring the neck remains supported and in alignment with the spine. This position helps prevent airway obstruction and facilitates effective breathing.

Check for Breathing: Observing the infant’s breathing pattern is the next critical step. Lean close to the infant’s face, looking for chest movement, listening for breath sounds, and feeling for exhalation against your cheek. Take no more than 10 seconds to assess breathing. If the infant is not breathing or only gasping, CPR is warranted.

Perform Chest Compressions: Administering chest compressions is the cornerstone of CPR, aimed at circulating oxygenated blood throughout the body. With the infant positioned on their back, locate the center of the chest between the nipples. Using two fingers (index and middle), apply gentle pressure to compress the chest approximately 1.5 inches deep. Maintain a steady rhythm of 100-120 compressions per minute, allowing the chest to recoil fully between compressions.

Deliver Rescue Breaths: Incorporating rescue breaths into CPR helps oxygenate the infant’s lungs and bloodstream. After completing 30 compressions, it’s time to deliver rescue breaths. With the infant’s head tilted back slightly, lift their chin to create a clear airway. Form a seal over the infant’s mouth and nose with your mouth, and deliver two gentle breaths lasting about one second each. Observe for chest rise and fall with each breath, indicating effective ventilation.

Continue CPR: CPR is a cyclical process of compressions and breaths aimed at sustaining vital functions until professional help arrives or the infant shows signs of recovery. Maintain the ratio of 30 compressions to 2 breaths, ensuring consistency in depth, rate, and technique. Reassess the infant’s condition periodically and adjust your approach as needed.

FAQs About Infant CPR

Can I perform CPR on a choking infant?

If an infant is choking and unable to breathe, CPR may be necessary to dislodge the obstruction. Begin with back blows and chest thrusts to clear the airway before initiating CPR if necessary.

How long should I continue CPR before seeking help?

CPR should be continued until the infant shows signs of recovery, such as breathing normally, or until medical professionals take over.

Can anyone perform infant CPR, or do I need special training?

While anyone can learn infant CPR, it’s highly recommended to undergo formal training and certification to ensure proficiency and confidence in performing CPR correctly.

What if I’m alone when an infant needs CPR?

If you’re alone with an infant who requires CPR, begin CPR for two minutes before calling emergency services. Then, continue CPR while awaiting help.

Is infant CPR different from child CPR?

Yes, infant CPR differs from child CPR in several ways. Infants have smaller airways and require gentler compressions. Additionally, the technique for delivering rescue breaths varies between infants and older children.


Learning how to perform infant CPR is an invaluable skill that can potentially save a young life in an emergency. By familiarizing yourself with the steps and techniques outlined in this guide, you’re taking a proactive step towards being prepared for the unexpected. Remember, quick and decisive action can make all the difference when it comes to infant CPR. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and be ready to act when every second counts.

Learn how to save infants’ lives by mastering infant CPR. Join a special CPR class for babies to gain the skills and confidence to help them during emergencies. Don’t wait until it’s too late—prepare yourself now to be a hero when an infant needs your help. Find the nearest center and take the first step towards learning vital lifesaving skills. Start your journey to becoming a CPR-certified hero today.