It’s hard to imagine the scary moment when you realize the little bundle of joy in front of you isn’t breathing.
That’s why it’s so important to be prepared. Any adults in the home should know how to perform CPR on children. Just because you know how to do CPR on an adult doesn’t mean you’re ready if a baby needs help. Here are the 9 steps you need to know to perform CPR on a baby. Reading these could save a baby’s life.
Asphyxiation: How at Risk Is Your Baby?
Commonly known as suffocation, asphyxiation is caused by a severe lack of oxygen in the body. The longer the body is deprived of this essential element, the greater the likelihood of death. How big is the risk of suffocation for your baby? Considered a form of unintentional injury by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suffocation is the number one killer of infants and among the top five for babies. However, drowning is a primary cause of asphyxiation. Whether your child has been in the world for just days or is a chatty four-year-old, his or her risk of drowning is especially high.
Other Reasons an Infant’s Heartbeat or Breathing Could Stop
- Electrical shock
- Excessive bleeding
- Head trauma or serious injury
- Lung disease
What Can You Do? Learn this Life-Saving Technique
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is a technique every parent and child caregiver should have in his or her emergency preparedness tool kit. CPR is essentially a combination of chest compressions and “rescue” breaths to make oxygen-rich blood circulate through the brain and other vital organs until emergency medical personnel arrive,” notes Baby Center1. CPR, which has been around since 1740, can prevent brain damage and death from asphyxiation or cardiac arrest.
CPR on infants, children, and adults could save 100,000 to 200,000 lives every year if it is performed early enough. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t know how to do this life-saving technique, reports the American Heart Association. Most emergencies where CPR2 is necessary occur in the home, so the life you save by knowing this technique would likely be your child’s.
Step-by-Step Guide to Performing Infant CPR
Health professionals recommend3 that all parents and caregivers receive training in an accredited CPR course. However, in the event of an emergency, the following step-by-step guide to performing infant CPR could save your child’s life.
Step 1: Make Sure CPR Is Necessary
CPR should only be performed if the baby is unconscious or breathing poorly or not breathing at all. Call your baby’s name and flick his or her feet. If you receive no response, it’s time to act—and quickly.
Step 2: Call for Help
Instruct whoever is near you to call 9-1-1. If you’re alone, STAY with the BABY. Shout for help, and then perform CPR for about 2 minutes.
Step 3: Start 30 Chest Compressions
Find the nearest flat surface—the floor or a table will work—and place the infant or baby on his or her back. If you suspect your child has suffered a spinal injury, ask for help moving the child to prevent his or her neck or head from twisting. Place the pads of two fingers in the center of the chest, just below the nipples. Apply pressure, pushing the chest down by about one and a half inches. Push fast. The CPR compression ratio should be two compressions per second.
Step 4: Free the Baby’s Airway
Use one hand to lift your child’s chin and the other to push his or her forehead down in order to tilt the head.
Step 5: Check for Breathing
Place your ear above your baby’s mouth for a maximum of ten seconds to check if he or she is breathing. Make sure you are not blocking air from reaching the child. Watch for chest movement. If the child isn’t breathing or is gasping for air, the situation is still critical.
Step 6: Give Rescue Breaths
Place your mouth tightly over your infant or baby’s mouth and nose. Keeping chin and head tilted, give two one-second-rescue breaths. Each one should make the baby’s chest rise.
Step 7: Continue CPR
If your child does not respond to CPR, continue CPR. The CPR compression ratio should be 30 chest compressions followed by 2 breaths. Repeat this sequence for 2 minutes.
Step 8: Go Call 9-1-1
If you’re alone, it’s time to call 9-1-1—even if this means leaving your infant or baby for an instant.
Step 9: Repeat Steps 3-6
Continue to perform infant CPR steps 3-6 until your child recovers or help arrives.
CPR on infants and babies is often necessary after a preventable accident. Below are some tips to keep your child out of situations that could compromise his or her breathing or heartbeat.
- Always stay with and closely watch your baby: the little ones are faster than you think and can easily roll off of changing tables or furniture.
- Toys with tiny or loose parts or batteries can present choking hazards. Keep these away from your infant.
- Common household cleaning products can be quite toxic. Childproof the cupboards where these products are stored.
- Teach your child that “No” means “No.” It’s important that children learn to follow directions that could keep them safe.
Due Diligence for a Safe and Happy Childhood
In the United States, injuries are the leading cause of death4 for children younger than 4 years old. The majority of these injuries can be prevented. Given their inquisitive minds and their ability to walk, run, climb, and jump, children can suffer serious accidents when exploring unsupervised. Knowing life-saving techniques like baby CPR can ensure your child stays safe during these formative years and that his or her memories will be happy ones.
1 – http://www.babycenter.com/0_infant-first-aid-for-choking-and-cpr-an-illustrated-guide_9298.bc
2 – http://cpr.heart.org/AHAECC/CPRAndECC/AboutCPRFirstAid/CPRFactsAndStats/UCM_475748_CPR-Facts-and-Stats.jsp
3 – https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000011.htm
4 – https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Safety-for-Your-Child-1-to-2-Years.aspx
5 – https://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4240175_Pediatric_ready_reference.pdf