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CPR And Automated External Defibrillator (12 Months Or Younger)

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is used when a baby isn’t breathing or the baby’s heartbeat has stopped. CPR alternates chest compressions with rescue breathing. This acts in place of the lungs and heart. An infant CPR class can teach you the right way to reproduce the heart’s pumping action. The information below gives you the basics of infant CPR. It is not intended to replace professional instruction.

Note: When performing infant CPR, focus on giving chest compressions. Alternate with rescue breathing only if you’re trained in infant CPR and are comfortable doing the rescue breathing part. Research has found that when done correctly, chest compressions alone are just as effective.

An automated electronic defibrillator (AED) is a small rescue machine. It detects the baby’s heart rhythm. If needed, the AED delivers electric shocks to the baby’s heart just strong enough to start it beating again. These devices are often found in public places. These include daycare centers, schools, offices, airports, and shopping malls. When available and used, an AED along with CPR can save a baby’s life. (CPR alone can also save a baby’s life.)

1.  Check If The Baby Can Respond

  • Tap or gently shake the baby. In a loud voice call out the baby’s name, if you know it.

  • If the baby responds, stay with him or her. Keep the baby comfortable and warm until emergency rescuers arrive.

2.  Call 911

  • If the baby does not respond, or is not breathing or is gasping for breath, do the following:

    • If someone is with you, have that person call 911. He or she should also try to find an automated external defibrillator (AED) if available. In the meantime, you should begin CPR right away.

    • If you’re alone, perform CPR (step 3) for 2 minutes first.

      • Then call 911.

      • If you know an AED is nearby, get it quickly and bring it back to where the baby is. Attach the AED and follow its voice prompts (step 5). Give one shock. Then resume CPR (step 3).

      • If there is no AED, resume CPR (step 3).

3. Begin Chest Compressions

  • The baby should be on his or her back on a firm surface.

  • Place 2 fingers on the infant’s breastbone just below an imaginary line that runs between the nipples.

  • Use your 2 fingers to compress the baby’s chest. Press down to at least 1/3 to 1/2 the depth of the baby’s chest. This is about 1½ inches in depth.

  • Allow the baby’s chest to come back up after each compression. This gives the heart time to refill with blood.

  • Give 30 compressions. Press down rapidly (at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute).

  • If you’re trained in CPR and can perform rescue breaths, now is the time to give rescue breaths (see step 4). Continue with the cycle of 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths until help arrives or the baby breathes, coughs, or moves.

  • If you do not know how or prefer not to give rescue breaths, continue doing compressions until the baby shows signs of movement, the AED is on hand (see step 5) or emergency rescuers take over.

4. Begin Rescue Breathing

  • Open the baby’s airway: Put one hand on the baby’s forehead. With your other hand, put two fingers under the baby’s chin and gently tilt the head upward. Do not tilt the head too far back.

  • If breathing does not start right away, place your mouth over the baby’s open mouth and nose. Give 1 gentle rescue breath, lasting 1 second (in your mind, count “one one-thousand”). Babies’ lungs are small, so don’t give a full breath.

  • Check if the baby’s chest rises:

    • If the chest rises, air has gone into the lungs. Let the baby exhale. If the baby responds by breathing, coughing, or moving, do not give chest compressions. Comfort the baby at this time.

    • If the baby’s chest does not rise, air has not entered the baby’s lungs. The airway may be blocked. Tilt the baby’s head again. Check if there’s something in the baby’s mouth. If you can see an object, use your little finger to sweep it out.

    • Give 1 more rescue breath.

    • If the baby’s chest still does not rise, resume chest compressions.

Continue with the cycle of 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths until help arrives or the baby breathes, coughs, or moves.

5.  Using The Aed

  • Make sure the baby and you are in a dry area. If not, move the baby to a dry and firm place.

  • Remove the baby’s clothing from the upper body. If needed, wipe the baby’s chest dry.

  • Turn on the AED. Follow its voice prompts:

    • Apply the pads to the baby’s chest. Follow the pictures on the instructions that come with the AED. Use the small pads meant for infants. If these are not available, use the adult pads. When applying the adult pads, make sure the pads don’t touch each other. If it looks like the pads will touch, apply one pad to the center of the baby’s chest. Apply the other pad to the center of the baby’s upper back. You may need to wipe the baby’s back dry.

    • Do not touch the baby while the AED analyzes the baby’s heart rhythm.

    • The AED will deliver a shock if needed. (Some AEDs will tell you to press a button to deliver the shock.)

    • Resume CPR for 2 minutes. (Do not remove the chest pads. The AED will continue to analyze the baby’s heart rhythm.)

  • If the baby responds, stay with him or her. Keep the baby comfortable and warm until help arrives.

  • If the baby does not respond, resume CPR as prompted by the AED. Continue to follow the AED prompts to deliver shocks and perform CPR. Do this until the baby responds or help arrives.

Prepare yourself to respond to an emergency. Take an infant CPR class. Taking the class and practicing on a mannequin will help you understand and remember what to do in an emergency.

Call your hospital, health department, or community center for class information. Or, go to the American Heart Association website to find a CPR class near you:

Content based on 2010 American Heart Association CPR guidelines.


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