The Importance of Infant CPR for Parents

As a parent, your children are your top priority. The idea that anything regarding their safety can be out of your control is unacceptable. But, as you’ve probably learned you can’t control everything that happens to your child, especially regarding medical issues, but you can be prepared. Unfortunately, the AHA reports that annually 6.2% of cardiac arrests outside a hospital occur in children under one year. Therefore, it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to be equipped with essential skills like Infant Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in order to protect their children from the unexpected. 

In this article, you’ll find important information on Infant Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for parents. This includes understanding what Infant CPR involves, its significance for parents, and the optimal time to start learning. Additionally, it covers the distinctions between Infant and Adult CPR, causes and signs of Infant Cardiac Arrest, a step-by-step Infant CPR guide, and mistakes to avoid. 

What is Infant CPR, and why is it essential for parents to learn? 

Infant CPR, or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is a life-saving technique performed on babies under one years old experiencing breathing difficulties or cardiac arrest. It involves chest compressions and rescue breaths to maintain blood circulation and oxygenation. Learning infant CPR is crucial because it empowers you as a parent to respond effectively in emergencies, potentially saving your baby’s life until professional medical help arrives.

The Ideal Time to Start Learning Infant CPR

It’s beneficial for parents and caregivers to start learning infant CPR during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth. However, it’s never too late to learn, even if your baby is already born! Pregnancy is an opportune time for parents and caregivers to equip themselves with essential skills, including infant CPR. Prenatal classes often encompass basic CPR training, providing expectant parents with foundational knowledge to handle emergencies involving their newborn, but we recommend getting a full CPR certification so you can be confident in responding to an emergency situation with your child. The urgency and importance of this skill don’t diminish as the child grows. So regardless of your child’s age, it’s never too late for parents to learn infant CPR. The unpredictable nature of life means that emergencies can occur at any time, to your or other children, so having this skill in your parenting toolkit remains invaluable.

The Difference Between Infant CPR and Adult CPR

Due to their significantly smaller size and physiology, infants require a different approach to CPR. This is why it is important to learn infant CPR specifically, and not just adult or child CPR. Recognizing these distinctions is vital as they will directly impact the success of your CPR, which can be the difference between life and death.

The main differences in CPR technique across age groups are the compression depth and hand placement. While adults require compressions at a depth of 2 inches and centered on the chest, children and infants need shallower compressions at 1.5 inches just below the nipple line. The compression rate and compression-to-breath ratio, however, remain consistent across all age groups, with 100-120 compressions per minute and a 30:2 ratio.”

Causes of Infant Cardiac Arrest

In infants, cardiac arrest can stem from various factors, especially involving breathing and their tiny hearts. 


Choking incidents are quite common – they tend to explore the world by putting things in their mouths, which can block their airways. And since their airways are still developing, even small obstructions can cause big problems. 

Breathing Problems

Then there are respiratory issues. Babies, like adults, can struggle to breathe due to infections or allergic reactions, but because their airways are still growing, these problems can hit them even harder.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

And there’s this heartbreaking thing called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While the exact causes are not yet understood, it’s when a perfectly healthy-looking baby suddenly passes away during sleep without any clear reason. It’s scary, right?

If you are ever faced with one of these emergencies, the regret of not being infant CPR certified will stay with you. That’s why getting certified becomes an urgent need. Emergencies strike at the most unexpected times. Being equipped to clear their airways, ensure their breathing, and give their little hearts a jumpstart if necessary can make all the difference. As a parent or caregiver, possessing the know-how and confidence to perform infant CPR is truly a life-saving skill.

Signs of Infant Cardiac Arrest

Now that we’ve talked about what might lead to infant cardiac arrest, it’s crucial to recognize the signs your little one might show. If your baby suddenly stops breathing, becomes unresponsive, has no pulse, or doesn’t react when you try to wake them up, it could be a sign something’s wrong. It is important to act quickly. According to MedlinePlus, after just 4 minutes without oxygen, permanent brain damage can begin. Within the next 4 to 6 minutes, the situation can turn fatal.

During a cardiac arrest, infants might not be able to breathe normally and could show little or no effort to do so, maybe a small gasp. Their pupils might appear wide and unresponsive, and sometimes they might have twitching movements or seizures because their brain isn’t getting enough oxygen.

It’s scary to think about, but it’s good to know these things, especially since most cases happen at home. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to act fast and call for help. Learning CPR for babies is a great way to be prepared for emergencies like these – it could make a real difference if you ever need it.

Infant CPR Step-By-Step Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you understand infant CPR, but please not this is not a replacement for getting CPR certified:

    1. Check Responsiveness:Start by gently tapping the infant’s foot while calling out, “Are you OK?” Avoid shaking the infant. If there’s no response, seek immediate assistance and call 911 or your local emergency number. Don’t leave the infant alone for more than a couple of minutes. Do not start CPR without first contacting emergency services. 

    1. Position the Infant: Lay the infant carefully on their back.
        1. Important note if you suspect a spinal injury: Have two people work together to move the infant when positioning them for CPR and don’t adjust the infants chin to clear the windpipe. Just gently adjust the jaw without moving the head or neck to stop the mouth from closing. 

    1. Perform Chest Compressions: Using two fingers just below the nipple line on the breastbone, apply gentle but firm pressure. Keep one hand on the infant’s forehead, tilting the head backwards. Administer 30 rapid chest compressions, allowing the chest to fully rise after each compression.

    1. Open the Airway: Lift the infant’s chin with one hand while gently tilting the head backward using the other hand.

    1. Check for Breathing: Listen closely for breath sounds near the mouth and nose. Observe for chest movements and feel for airflow against your cheek.

    1. Administer Rescue Breaths: If the infant is not breathing, securely cover the mouth and nose with your mouth for two rescue breaths, causing the chest to rise.

    1. Continued CPR: After approximately 2 minutes of CPR, if the infant still doesn’t show signs of normal breathing, coughing, or movement and you’re alone, call for emergency help. Continue performing rescue breathing and chest compressions until professional assistance arrives.

While learning infant CPR might feel too overwhelming, or maybe a little scary, it is an incredibly important skill that will bring parents and caregivers peace of mind. This complex process is exactly why finding a certified CPR instructor is so important. With a hands-on instructor guiding you through every step, you’ll understand how it works, what to look out for, and build confidence through practical demonstrations. These classes provide a safe space for practice, questions, and gaining firsthand experience in performing infant CPR maneuvers correctly. By the end, you’ll know how to effective respond to an emergency situation involving an infant. 

Common Infant CPR Mistakes to Avoid

Knowing the potential mistakes to avoid while administering infant CPR is just as important as learning the correct techniques. Here are a a few things you’ll want to be sure to avoid:

    • Unnecessary Chest Compressions: If the infant shows signs of normal breathing or movement, avoid initiating chest compressions, as this could exacerbate the situation.

    • Inadequate Compression Depth: Failing to compress deep enough may not effectively circulate blood.

    • Compression Interruptions: As much as possible, avoid any unnecessary interruptions during CPR.

    • Incorrect Hand Placement: Proper hand placement is critical for effective chest compressions.

    • Neglecting Rescue Breaths: While less critical for children, don’t neglect rescue breaths entirely, especially for infants.

    • Not Staying Calm: Maintain composure and stay as calm as possible, as this will help you perform CPR more effectively.The more confident you are in your capabilities, the easier it will be to stay calm. This is one reason we suggest in-person CPR classes. 

    • Chin Adjustment: Refrain from adjusting the infant’s chin to clear the windpipe if there’s a suspicion of a spinal injury. Instead, gently adjust the jaw without moving the head or neck to prevent the mouth from closing.

Understanding these mistakes is essential for properly responding to an emergency situation using CPR. We suggest reviewing these just as often as you review the steps following your CPR certification. 

Key Takeaways

The significance of learning infant CPR cannot be repeated enough. With most basic infant CPR classes taking only a few hours, you don’t want to regret not putting in the time and effort to learn the skills you need to protect your child. Despite the unpredictability of life and the potential emergencies that can arise, you do have the power to learn infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). REmember, while it’s best to take a certified infant CPR class during pregnancy, it is never too late to learn! CPR Fresno offers BLS CPR certification classes in Fresno, California at affordable rates. 

Questions and Answers

Can anyone perform Infant CPR, or does it require specific training or certification?

While anyone can attempt CPR in an emergency, receiving formal training and certification significantly improves the chances of performing effective CPR. Infant CPR, in particular, has nuances that require specialized training to ensure proper technique, especially given the delicate nature of an infant’s body.

Are there any risks associated with administering CPR to an infant?

Administering CPR to an infant involves potential risks such as broken ribs or damage to the chest area due to chest compressions. However, in an emergency where the infant is unresponsive and not breathing, these risks are outweighed by the urgent need for CPR to restore circulation and breathing.

What are some additional measures or precautions parents can take to prevent incidents leading to Infant Cardiac Arrest?

Some preventive measures include ensuring a safe sleep environment for infants to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), keeping small objects or choking hazards out of reach, and taking infant CPR classes to be prepared for emergencies.

Are there online resources or mobile apps that provide guidance or training for Infant CPR in case of emergencies?

Yes, there are numerous online resources and mobile apps that offer guidance and tutorials for Infant CPR. Some provide step-by-step instructions or videos demonstrating the proper techniques. However, hands-on training from certified CPR courses is highly recommended.

How often should parents practice or refresh their knowledge of Infant CPR, especially if they haven’t encountered such emergencies before?

It’s advisable to refresh Infant CPR skills regularly, especially if a significant amount of time has passed since the initial training. Practice sessions or refresher courses every one to two years can help ensure that parents and caregivers maintain confidence and competence in performing Infant CPR during emergencies.