Keeping your infant safe is the most important job of any parent. With a newborn at home, parents want to know everything they can to keep their little ones safe. One important aspect to add to your checklist is infant CPR. No parent ever wants to be in a position where they will have to give their child CPR. But it's important to know what to do in case of any unseen situations. You may have taken a CPR class in high school but adult CPR does differ from infants due to their small and fragile bodies. Performing CPR incorrectly can potentially cause injury.
What is CPR & Why is CPR Important?
CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a medical necessity when anyone stops breathing or becomes unresponsive. CPR is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing. Providing chest compressions acts as the heart beating and keeps blood circulating through the body and the rescue breath provides oxygen to the lungs. Every second counts when the brain and other organs are starving of oxygenated blood, so it is vital to begin CPR as soon as possible. CPR is not only for adults it is also for children and infants. Knowing these important CPR skills can prevent further damage to cells inside the body and can even save a life!
Circumstances that May Require Infant CPR
Every parent hopes their infant will never be in a life-threatening emergency. However, it is important to be prepared in case anything were to happen. Some examples of situations where CPR is vital are:
- Accidental ingestion
- Health conditions
- Chest injury
Babies are always curious and prone to sticking anything they can find in their mouths. If an infant ingested chemicals or medicines it can potentially cause cardiac arrest. These events are the worst-case scenarios but it's important to be ready for anything.
How to Perform CPR on a Child
Before giving an infant CPR first check the scene and make sure you and the child are safe. If you get injured trying to reach the child you won't be able to do them any good. Once you know it's safe you can check the infant to see the extent of the injury.
- Check: Check if the infant is responsive by flicking the bottom of their feet to see if they elicit a response. If the child does not respond, do not yell at bystanders to call 911 and begin CPR.
- Open the Airway: Open the infant's airway by lying the child on their back and tilting their head back and their lift the chin.
- Check for Breathing: Listen for sounds of breathing for 10 seconds.
- Rescue Breath: If the infant is not breathing, tilt the head back and lift the chin, then pinch the child's nose and make a complete seal over the child's mouth with yours. Breathe twice into the child's mouth. When giving rescue breaths to an infant you should see the chest rise and fall with each breath.
To perform CPR on infants 0 months to 1 year:
- Lay the infant on their back on a hard surface.
- Place two fingers on the breastbone.
- Push straight down approximately 1.5 inches and deliver 30 compressions at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute.
- Let the chest return to its normal position after each compression.
- After each set of 30 compressions provide 2 rescue breaths.
- Continue this cycle until the child regains consciousness, an AED is ready to use, or EMS professionals have arrived to take over.
When checking if an infant is unresponsive, have a second person call 911. If you are alone at the scene, provide CPR for 2 minutes, then if the child is still unresponsive after 2 minutes call 911 and continue CPR.
Infant CPR Hand Position
To properly position your hands for infant CPR place two fingers on top of the breast bone right below the nipple line. If you imagine a line connecting the nipples your fingers should go in the center just below the line. Knowing the proper technique is vital in performing effective CPR and minimizing injury.
Infant VS Adult CPR
Infant CPR differs from adult CPR in a few important ways. When administering CPR to an infant you will only need to press down around 1.5 inches due to their small frame. When performing chest compressions on an infant remember to only place two fingers on top of the breast bone. Because infants have a delicate build and are much smaller, two fingers will provide enough force while keeping the child safe from further injury. Infant CPR and adult CPR are similar in the aspect that the sooner CPR begins the better chance of survival. As well as the CPR cycle of completing 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths.
Why Infant CPR is Important
These scenarios are something we hope we never have to take part in. However, life is unpredictable and if a baby's life is at risk it is important to know how to respond. To be prepared for any situation adding infant CPR to your parenting checklist is a must. Check out your local community center or hospital to see when they are offering infant CPR classes to learn from infant CPR-certified instructors. If an emergency does occur you will be thankful you took an infant CPR class.