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First Aid: How to Perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) On Your Baby

First Aid: How to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) On Your BabyCardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of simulating the breathing of the lungs and the pumping of the heart. It’s important to note that CPR is effective less than 30% of the time. But that does not mean that is pointless. So, even though there are no 100 % guarantees that your efforts will work, not carrying out CPR has even less guarantees.

For that reason it is very important that you enrol in a class to learn how to do CPR effectively and call for help (10177) before and during carrying out this possibly life saving procedure.


What to do?

  • If your child is unconscious, call his name and tap gently on the sole of his foot to see if you get a response.
  • If your baby is unconscious but still breathing normally, hold him on the side, head titled, as if you were giving him a cuddle, with his head lower than his tummy.
  • If your baby is unconscious, and he is having trouble breathing, use the following procedure.


Open the airway

Kneel at a right angle at your baby’s chest. Place one hand on his forehead and gently tip his head back. Then using your hand, use one finger to lift his chin.

With one hand on his forehead and the other hand supporting the back of his neck, gently incline his head back to open the airway. In some cases, this may be enough to help return breathing.

Take a quick look at your baby to remove any visible obstructions from his mouth and nose. Observe to see if your child has resumed breathing normally again. Allow up to 10 seconds for this to happen.

If your child is still not breathing begin CPR. Call the ambulance before starting (10177) , or ask someone to call if you are not alone.


Five rescue breaths

  • Open your baby’s airway by removing any obvious obstructions.
  • Fasten your lips around your baby’s mouth and nose.
  • Blow steadily into his lungs, observing your baby’s chest as you breathe. Fill your cheeks with air and use this amount each time.
  • As your baby’s chest rises, stop blowing and allow it to fall.
  • Repeat this five times.


Give 30 chest compressions

  • Ensure that your baby is on a firm surface.
  • Place two fingers in the centre of your baby’s chest. (Imagine a line between your baby’s nipples. Find the middle of that line and measure about one finger’s width below that point. Now position two fingers of one hand on that spot.
  • Press down sharply to a third of the depth of his chest.
  • Press 30 times, at a rate of 100 compressions per minute.
  • After 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths.
  • Continue resuscitation (30 compressions to two rescue breaths) without stopping until help arrives.

If you are unable to give rescue breaths, give chest compressions alone.


If your toddler can’t breathe

  • Get behind your child. Circle your arms under his arms and around his chest.
  • Make a fist with one of your hands. Place the thumb side of that fist against the middle of his stomach – slightly above the belly button, but well below the hard tip of his breastbone. Do not press your fingers on your child’s ribs (this could break them).
  • Grasp your fist with your other hand. Make a quick inward and upward thrust. This will force the air trapped behind the object to push it out.
  • Keep making inward and upward thrusts until the object is dislodged from your child’s throat.

While abdominal thrusts can save your child’s life, they can also cause injury. It is advisable to take a CPR class so that you can learn and practise these steps safely, in case you may need to use it.


Notice that these infant CPR steps for victims under 1 year old are nearly identical to adult CPR steps with the following key differences:

  • Be careful not to tilt the head too far.
  • If you are alone, perform 5 cycles of CPR (about 2 minutes) then call for help.
  • Cover mouth and nose with your mouth.
  • Use two fingertips instead of two hands for chest compressions.


CPR and first aid courses around the country

St John

Johannesburg (011) 403 4227
Cape Town (021) 461 8420
Durban (031) 305 6588
Port Elizabeth (041) 364 2701
Bloemfontein (051) 444 6276


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