When you find someone in need of CPR, your brain is running a mile per minute. In this high-stress, hyper-emotional situation, you may find yourself feeling scared, overwhelmed, or ill-equipped.
Now, imagine if that someone in need of CPR is an infant.
When it comes to CPR, making the decision to perform this lifesaving technique can be difficult for some people. With the increased pressure of an infant patient, additional questions arise, including whether or not performing CPR on infants is even safe to do.
So, is it Safe to Perform CPR on Infants?
According to the Canadian Red Cross (CRC), the answer is a resounding yes.
That said, if you are ever in a situation where you need to perform CPR on an infant, it is important to remember that the techniques are slightly different than those used on adults or children.
It’s important that all parents and caregivers have first aid training. We recommend taking our Standard Child Care First Aid Course for in-depth, up-to-date methods.
How to Perform CPR on Infants
As we’ve discussed before, CPR is an emergency procedure that is performed when someone’s heart has stopped beating and they are not breathing. CPR acts as a manual heartbeat to continue to circulate oxygenated blood to the brain to keep the person alive until they can get medical help.
There are special CPR guidelines for performing CPR on infants. The CPR guidelines for infants from the CRC are:
- Check the baby and the baby’s ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation)
- If the baby is unresponsive and not breathing or not breathing normally, call 911 and get an AED with child pads/key if available
- Note: If possible, have someone else do this so you can start CPR
- Place 2 fingers in the center of the baby’s chest
- Do 30 chest compressions
- Open the airway by tilting the baby’s head back and lifting the chin
- Place your barrier device over the baby’s mouth and nose
- Give 2 breaths
- Repeat cycles of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths until the infant starts breathing, an AED is ready to use, or help arrives
Following these guidelines will help to ensure that you are performing CPR correctly and safely on an infant.
Be sure to check out our YouTube video on Child and Infant CPR for a complete tutorial.
Are There Any Risks Involved with Performing CPR on Infants?
While there are risks involved in performing CPR on infants (and adults), we want to be very clear that the risks of choosing not to administer CPR are far worse than any potential risk associated with giving CPR.
The most notable risk to be conscious of when giving CPR to an infant is force. Whereas CPR for an adult is rather assertive, much less force is used when performing chest compressions on an infant. Infant bodies are much more fragile than adult ones, so injuries, such as broken ribs, can happen with significantly less force.
Don’t let potential risks get in the way of taking action in an emergency situation involving an infant. When performed correctly, CPR can help to keep an infant’s heart functioning until more advanced medical help arrives. The phrase ‘life over limb’ means that we want to prioritize saving someone’s life even if they are hurt in the process (such as a broken rib).
Though it is safe to perform CPR on infants, they are much more fragile than adults and as such, extra care and precaution must be taken when performing CPR on them.
If you are trained in CPR and follow the proper guidelines, it is safe to perform CPR on infants. Doing so greatly increases their chance of survival.