CPR for children

A child is defined as being aged 1 to puberty when it comes to first aid. There are a few differences in CPR when it comes to children and babies. Here is what you will need to do in the case of a child not breathing. We also have advice on how to perform CPR on a baby (infant) and an adult.


What to do

Follow the steps below:

Step 1  

If you find a child collapsed, you should first perform a  primary survey.  Do not open their airway and don'tt place your face close to theirs to check for breathing.  

If this shows that they are unresponsive and not breathing, shout for help. Ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help while you start CPR. Ask a helper to find and bring a defibrillator, if available. 

  • Ask your helper to put the phone on speaker and hold it out towards you, so they can maintain a 2m distance 
  • If you are on your own, use the hands-free speaker on a phone so you can start CPR while speaking to ambulance control 
  • Do not leave the casualty to look for a defibrillator yourself, the ambulance will bring one
  • You cannot use an AED on a child under the age of one.
  • You should ideally use child pads but if these are not available, adult pads can be used
    Place one pad in the middle of the chest and the other on the back between the shoulder plades.
Step 2  

With children the cause behind their collapse is more likely due to an issue with breathing and therefore the first part of CPR in children is starting with rescue breaths. If you are trained, willing and able to do so, follow the guidance listed below.

  • Make sure you are kneeling by the casualty; place one hand on their forehead and using two fingers of the other hand under their chin, tilt their head back. 
  • Then move the hand on the forehead down to their nose and pinch the soft part of the nose closed with your finger and thumb. Make sure you keep the head tilted back. 
  • To give the rescue breath you will need to take a breath in and place your mouth around the child’s mouth creating a seal. 
  • Blow into their mouth gently for one second, until the chest rises. 
  • Remove your mouth and watch the chest fall – this is one rescue breath, you will need to do this five times. 
Step 3 

To deliver chest compressions in a child, place the heel of one hand in the middle of their chest. 

Keep your arm straight and lean over the casualty. Press down a third of the child’s chest depth before releasing the pressure, allowing the chest to come back up ( this is one compression). 

  • Repeat this 30 times at a rate of 100-120 per minute.
  • The beat of the song 'Staying Alive' can help you keep the right rate 
Step 4  

After the 30 compressions you will need to give 2 more rescue breaths using the same technique used for the initial 5 rescue breaths in step 2. 

Then alternate between 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths. 

Continue to perform CPR until:   

  • emergency help arrives and takes over 
  • the person starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally 
  • you are too exhausted to continue - if there is a helper, you can change over every one-to-two minutes with minimal interruptions to chest compressions 
  • a defibrillator is ready to be used. 

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