Learn How to Perform Child CPR

Emergencies Happen

Though all parents have a fervent wish for their children to remain healthy always, emergencies happen. It's good to be prepared for any eventuality. Learning how to perform CPR may just help you save someone's life-your own child's life, or that of an anonymous child in trouble at the playground, for instance.

The first thing to know about cardiac arrest in children is that it is unusual for a child's heart to stop as a result of heart failure. Most often, cardiac arrest in children is due to injury such as smoke inhalation, head trauma, and poisoning. Such injuries tend to cause the child to stop breathing, first. Statistics show that children are more resilient and responsive to CPR than adults, but only in the event that CPR is performed right away.

If the child is unresponsive and you are alone with him, do not stop to call 911, but rather perform CPR for at least a couple of minutes before you dial for emergency help. Check his responses with gentle shaking, shouting, "Are you okay?" If you suspect a spinal injury, do not shake the child, since this could cause permanent injury. If it is clear the child is unconscious, start performing the ABC's of CPR.


If possible, call out to someone nearby to call 911

Using care not to move or twist the child's head, neck, or spine, position the injured child on his back.

Look, listen, and feel for breathing which may be faint or shallow. If the child is not breathing, his tongue may be blocking his airway. Tilt his chin. This will shift the tongue away from his airway. If clearing the airway doesn't restore his breathing, proceed to breathing.


Keeping his chin tilted, pinch the injured child's nose shut.

Give two long, slow breaths, maintaining a seal between your mouth and the child's. Children's lungs are small so be careful to keep your breaths shallow to prevent stomach distention, a cause of vomiting. In the event that the child vomits, turn his head sideways and sweep away all obstruction before you proceed.

If you've given two breaths and the child is still unresponsive; no breathing, moving, or coughing, check his circulation.


Place two fingers on the child's carotid artery, on the side of his throat. Apply slight pressure for five to ten seconds. If you feel no pulse, the child's heart is not beating and you will need to perform chest compressions.


Place two fingers on the sternum, the point of the "v" at the bottom of the rib cage where the lower ribs meet. Place the heel of your hand atop your fingers.

Be Gentle

Compressions must be more gentle in child CPR, no more than one inch in depth. Remember this as: One hand, One inch.

If you feel or hear a slight cracking sound, apply less pressure. Count five compressions, and follow with one breath.

Repeat for 20 cycles, stopping after each cycle to check for pulse and consciousness.

Call 911.

Continue to perform 20 cycles followed by pulse and consciousness checks until help arrives.

If you feel a heartbeat (pulse), give one rescue breath every three seconds, remembering to pinch his nostrils to create a seal, and checking for breathing after each three second wait.