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Pediatric CPR: A Step-By-Step Guide

Pediatric CPR: A Step-By-Step Guide

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR for short, is a common life-saving procedure that many people learn about as a first-aid during emergencies. It is a helpful technique done when a person encounters another drowning or having a heart attack, that causes the lungs and heart to stop breathing and beating, respectively. Kids may need pediatric CPR.

Pediatric CPR is usually done through the combination of chest pumping (compressions) and rescue (mouth-to-mouth) breathing to help move blood from the heart to the body and oxygen to the lungs.

Understanding How the Lungs and the Heart Work Together

The lungs’ job is to take in (inhale) oxygen-rich air, which is essential for survival. Meanwhile, it is the heart’s responsibility to pump blood to the lungs and throughout the body.

Indicators a Child Needs Pediatric CPR

Pediatric CPR is closely similar to the CPR done in adults, except that this kind often involves children from 1 to 8 years old. The pediatric age also ranges from infancy to late adolescence (0 to 18 years old). So those who are in their teen years are also included in the same category.

If the child shows any of the following signs and indicators, pediatric CPR should be performed:

  • Not breathing
  • No pulse rate
  • Unconsciousness

The heartbeat and breathing of a child may stop due to a variety of reasons, which may include the following:

How To Do Pediatric CPR

An easy way to keep in mind what to do during an emergency is to remember and follow three easy steps with the acronym CAB:

C – Do Chest Compresssions

A – Check the Airway

B – Do rescue Breathing

Below is a detailed step-by-step procedure that a person must follow in executing pediatric CPR:

  1. Gently tap the child to check for alertness. Examine how the child is moving or making a noise. You may shout to ask if the child is alright.
  2. If the child does not respond, immediately call the hospital or any local emergency number that can bring an ambulance as soon as possible. You must not leave the child alone until you have executed the CPR procedure for two minutes straight.
  3. Place the child on their back with caution. If there is a possibility that the child has a spinal injury, the child should be moved by two persons to avoid twisting the head and neck in the wrong direction.
  4. After which, you may begin performing the chest compressions.
  • It is usually done by placing the heel of one hand just below the nipple area of the breastbone.
  • Maintain the child’s head tilted back with your other hand on their forehead.
  • Press the child’s chest down to a depth of one-third to one-half of the chest’s depth.
  • Compress the chest for 30 seconds. Allow the chest to elevate completely each time. There should be no pauses between these compressions. Quickly count the 30 compressions.
  • The ‘two-thumb encircling hands technique’ can also be used by rescuers who have had prior CPR training. To do so, encircle the infant’s chest with both hands and compress it with both thumbs roughly one-third to one-half its depth.
  1. Gently open the mouth or the airway. With one hand, lift the chin and push down the forehead with the other hand to tilt the head.
  2. Check any signs of breathing by placing your ears close to the child’s mouth and nose. Make sure to also observe the chest movement and feel the breath on your cheek.
  3. If the child is still not showing any signs of breathing:
  • Tightly cover the child’s mouth with your mouth.
  • Pinch the nose while maintaining the lifted chin and tilted head.
  • Provide two rescue breaths in which each one should last for about a second to make the chest rise.
  1. Continuously perform rescue breathing and chest compressions until the child recovers or rescue comes. If there is just one rescuer, they should give two breaths after every 30 chest compressions. If there are two rescuers, the child should get two breaths after every 15 chest compressions.
  2. Place the child in the recovery position once they start breathing. Until help arrives, keep checking their breathing.

Key Takeaways

Pediatric CPR is a vital first aid technique everyone should know, especially those with kids. When dealing with an unconscious child who is not breathing, time is crucial. After only 4 minutes without oxygen, permanent brain injury can occur, and death can follow in as little as 4 to 6 minutes. Always call for emergency.

Learn more about Child Health here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Child & Baby CPR, https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr/performing-cpr/child-baby-cpr, Accessed September 28, 2021

CPR: A Real Lifesaver, https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/cpr.html, Accessed September 28, 2021

How to resuscitate a child, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/first-aid-and-safety/first-aid/how-to-resuscitate-a-child/, Accessed September 28, 2021

CPR for children and teenagers: in pictures, https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/safety/cpr-first-aid/cpr-for-children, Accessed September 28, 2021

How to do CPR on a child, https://www.sja.org.uk/get-advice/first-aid-advice/paediatric-first-aid/how-to-do-cpr-on-a-child/, Accessed September 28, 2021

CPR – child (1 to 8 years old), https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/injury/cpr-child-1-to-8-years-old, Accessed September 28, 2021

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for Infants, https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/health-wellness-and-safety-resources/helping-hands/cardiopulmonary-resuscitation-cpr-for-infants, Accessed September 28, 2021

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated 3 weeks ago
Medically reviewed by Michael Henry Wanat