Authored by Revere Health

Giving CPR to a Child

August 23, 2016 | Family Medicine

Nutrition for Children

If you’ve ever watched a hospital TV show, chances are you’ve seen cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Cardio means “of the heart,” pulmonary means “of the lungs” and resuscitation is a medical term that means “to revive” – or bring back to life. CPR is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation). This lifesaving procedure can restore circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the brain to someone who isn’t breathing or whose heartbeat has stopped.

Why Give a Child CPR?


CPR should be given if a child stops breathing, has no pulse or is unconscious. There are many things that could cause a child’s heartbeat and breathing to stop. Some reasons you may need perform CPR on a child include:

Smoke inhalation

Severe allergic reaction



Electrical shock

Excessive bleeding

Head trauma or serious injury



Suspected sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)


Who Should Know CPR?


Certain people need to know how to perform CPR to do their jobs. People who handle emergencies such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, even lifeguards, are all trained to do CPR. Childcare workers, school teachers and coaches usually have to learn CPR as well. Reading about CPR and having a basic understanding of the procedure can help you determine when it is needed, but all parents and child caregivers are strongly encouraged to take an accredited CPR class to learn infant and child CPR. Knowing the correct technique and compression ratios will give someone the best chance of survival.


Determine if CPR is necessary


CPR is most successful when started right away, but before starting chest compressions or mouth-to-mouth, quickly determine whether the situation is safe for you to approach the child. After assessing if it is safe for you to help, check for alertness. Look for things such as eye opening, sounds from the mouth or chest movement. Shake or tap the child gently and ask loudly, “Are you okay?” If the child does not move or respond and their breathing and pulse have stopped, start CPR. Current CPR courses often teach that if you are alone with an unresponsive infant or child, perform CPR for about 2 minutes before calling 9-1-1 for help.

When dealing with an unconscious child, time is of the essence. 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 trained medical help arrives. According to the American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double, or even triple, a victim’s chance of survival.


3 Steps of CPR


1. Compressions

Chest compressions help improve blood flow to the body’s vital organs including the heart and brain. First, place the heel of one hand on the breastbone with the other hand on the child’s forehead, keeping the head tilted back. Then, on a firm flat surface, begin 30 chest compressions, followed by two rescue breaths. Each compression should be about 1 to 2 inches deep. In between each compression, lift your hands off the chest and allow the chest to rise completely before doing another compression. This allows blood to flow back toward the heart. According to the American Heart Association, compressions should be hard, fast and in the center of the chest with a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. The familiar tune of the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” has the right beat and title for providing CPR’s chest compressions at the correct pace to revive someone.


2. Airway

After 30 compressions have been completed, make sure the victim’s airway is open. Tilt the victim’s head back and tilt the chin to open the airway. Check for breathing or blockage; watch for rise of chest and listen for air movement. In a CPR class, participants will learn what to do to clear the airway for an infant or child who has choked and their airway is blocked.


3. Breathing

After 30 compressions and the airway is open, give two rescue breaths to the victim using mouth-to-mouth. When giving CPR to a child, pinch the nose shut, then make a complete seal over the child’s mouth. Rescue breathing helps force air down into the lungs of the person who isn’t breathing. Each breath should take about a second and make the chest rise.

Chest compressions should start again right after the two rescue breaths are given. Continue CPR until there are signs of movement or emergency medical personnel take over.

Nearby hospitals and the American Red Cross are good resources for finding a CPR course in your area. Here are a few of the top locations throughout the state of Utah that offer CPR and first aid training.


To learn more about child and infant CPR and for CPR courses near you, please visit:




The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.