CPR for Children

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on March 14, 2024
3 min read
  • If you’re alone with a child or baby who is unresponsive and not breathing (or only gasping), call 911 after you’ve done 2 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • If someone else is present, shout for the person to call 911 and then have them locate an AED (a defibrillator) right away while you begin CPR.
  • If a child or baby is unconscious but you see regular breathing, call 911 and wait for help. A breathing child or baby does not need CPR, but one that is not breathing or gasping does.

For adult CPR, see Hands-Only CPR for Adults.

This article is a guideline. It is important to learn CPR to know how to do it correctly. For more information about a CPR course, go to redcross.org or heart.org.

  • Make sure you and the child are in safe surroundings.
  • Tap the child gently.
  • Shout, “Are you OK?"
  • Look quickly to see if the child has any injuries, bleeding, or medical problems.
  • Place your ear near the child’s mouth and nose. Is there breath on your cheek? Is the child’s chest moving?

If the child doesn’t respond and isn’t breathing:

  • Carefully place the child on their back. For a baby, be careful not to tilt the head back too far. If you suspect a neck or head injury, roll the baby over, moving their entire body at once.
  • For a baby, place two fingers on breastbone. For a child, place heel of one hand on center of chest at nipple line. You also can push with one hand on top of the other.
  • For a child, press down about 2 inches. Make sure not to press on ribs, as they are fragile and prone to fracture.
  • For a baby, press down about 1 1/2 inches, about 1/3 to 1/2 the depth of chest. Make sure not to press on the end of the breastbone.
  • Do 30 chest compressions, at the rate of 100 per minute. Let the chest rise completely between pushes.
  • Check to see if the child has started breathing.
  • Continue CPR until emergency help arrives.
  • To open the airway, lift the child’s chin up with one hand. At the same time, tilt the head back by pushing down on the forehead with the other hand. Do not tilt the head back if the child is suspected of having a neck or head injury.
  • For a child, cover their mouth tightly with yours. Pinch the nose closed and give breaths.
  • For a baby, cover the mouth and nose with your mouth and give breaths.
  • Give the child two breaths, watching for the chest to rise each time. Each breath should take one second.
  • Two breaths can be given after every 30 chest compressions. If someone else is helping you, you should give 15 compressions, then 2 breaths.
  • Continue this cycle of 30 compressions and 2 breaths until the child starts breathing or emergency help arrives.
  • If you are alone with the child and have done 2 minutes of CPR (about 5 cycles of compressions and breathing), call 911 and find an AED.

For children age 9 and under, use a pediatric automated external defibrillator (AED), if available. If a pediatric AED is not available, or for children age 1 and older, use a standard AED.

  • Turn on the AED.
  • Wipe the chest dry and attach the pads.
  • The AED will give you step-by-step instructions.
  • Continue compressions and follow AED prompts until emergency help arrives or the child starts breathing.