How to Perform CPR on a Child
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A Step-by-Step Guide to Performing CPR on a Child

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an essential procedure that can help save the life of a child (age 1 – 8) whose heart has stopped. Immediate CPR can restart the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the body and keep it flowing to the brain and other essential organs until medical professionals arrive. However, without immediate intervention, the lack of oxygenated blood can cause permanent brain damage in as little as 4 minutes, and death can happen in only 4 – 6 minutes. Follow the steps below if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation in which a child has stopped breathing. 

Before Administering CPR to a Child

  1. Prior to starting CPR, survey the area for safety. Do not begin life-saving procedures if you are in immediate danger. 
  2. Next, determine whether the child is truly in need of CPR. CPR may be necessary if the child is not breathing, is unconscious, or lacks a pulse. However, even if the child is conscious, it’s important to confirm that they’re in need of assistance. Do this by touching the child on the arm and shouting: “Are you OK?” If the child cannot physically respond or confirms that they need help through nodding or some other gesture, continue on to the next step.
  3. Immediately yell for someone to call 911 while you begin CPR. If there is no one else nearby who can call 911, call yourself after beginning CPR. 
  4. Additionally, designate someone to retrieve an automated external defibrillator (AED). If there is no AED available or no one to retrieve it, don’t leave the child unattended. Rather, stay on the line with 911 and continue administering CPR procedures until medical help arrives. 
  5. Finally, before beginning CPR, lay the child flat on their back. Note: If there is any risk of spinal damage, have two people position the child flat on their back while holding their head still so as to minimize any additional damage.

Administering CPR to a Child

Chest Compressions:

  1. First, begin chest compressions by placing the heel of your hand on the breastbone.
  2. Next, use your other hand to tilt the child’s head back by pushing gently on their forehead. This will ensure that the airway is open and thus rescue breaths are able to be received. 
  3. Using your one hand, complete chest compressions by pushing down on the child’s chest approximately 1/3 – 1/2 the depth of the chest.
  4. Continue with 30 chest compressions at a rapid pace (allowing the chest to rise completely between each compression). Shoot for approximately 100 – 120 compressions per minute.  

Rescue Breaths:

  1. After completing 30 compressions, determine whether or not to begin administering rescue breaths. To do so, you must first note if the child has resumed breathing from your chest compressions alone. Place your ear near their mouth and nose to feel for breath and watch to see if their chest is rising. If they are still not breathing, continue on with rescue breaths.
  2. If the child is still not breathing, first ensure that their airway is open by continuing to push on the forehead with one hand while also lifting up their chin with your free hand.
  3. Next, cover the child’s mouth with your mouth completely and pinch their nose closed while keeping their chin lifted.
  4. Offer two strong rescue breaths. (Ensure that the child’s chest is rising with each breath.)

*Continue the cycle of 30 compressions and two rescue breaths until medical professionals arrive or until the child resumes breathing.


American CPR Care Association provides quality healthcare training, as well as first aid, CPR and AED courses, through our online portal. For more information about administering CPR, contact us at: 1-888-808-9109 or [email protected] or fill out a support form today to have us reach out to you. 


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