Infant CPR: What to do if your baby stops breathing

Infant CPR: What to do if your baby stops breathing

Would you know what to do if your baby stopped breathing?  It is an awful thing to think about, but it is a scenario we need to consider.  In all the preparation for making your home safe for your baby, have you taken the time to ensure you and your family are trained in infant CPR skills to ensure that your baby would have the best chance of survival if something caused her to stop breathing?

Medical professionals who tend to use these skills more often have to recertify every 2 years to keep their skills fresh.  It is even more important for non-medical people to review skills frequently so they remember what to do in an emergency.

This post is NOT intended to replace an in-person course, and you should not take this information as complete.  This is intended to give you the basics to familiarize you with the skills. You need to go through a complete program and then practice the skills with an instructor who can make sure you are doing them correctly.  Please contact the Red Cross or your local YMCA to learn about classes in your area.

In the meantime, let’s go over the basics of CPR.

1. Check for responsiveness and breathing

  • The goal is to try to wake the baby if she’s just sleeping
  • Ask loudly if she’s ok
  • Jostle her (but don’t shake her)
  • Look for chest to rise and fall
  • Flick the soles of her feet
  • Don’t stay on this step too long. If you don’t get a response, most to the next step.

2. Call 911

  • Have someone call 911 immediately
  • If you are alone, dial 911 and put it on speakerphone so you can start CPR while talking to the dispatcher

3. Begin chest compressions

infant CPR compressions
Compressions should be done just below the baby’s nipple line
  • Compressions need to be approximately ½ the depth of the chest
  • Compressions need to be fast — about 100 compressions per minute
  • It is best to do compressions on a hard and flat surface if possible
  • Compressions are given at a ratio of 30 compressions to 2 rescue breaths (to be addressed next)
  • Compressions are THE MOST IMPORTANT part of CPR. You are basically trying to do the heart’s job for it, so make sure you are doing a good job to circulate the blood throughout the baby’s body.

4. Give rescue breaths

infant CPR rescue breaths
Before giving rescue breaths, tilt the baby’s head slightly so that his or her nose points straight at the ceiling
  • The purpose of rescue breaths is to provide some oxygen to the baby who is not breathing.
  • Rescue breaths do not need to be big breaths for a baby — you are just blowing the air from your mouth/cheeks into the baby’s lungs. Remember your lungs are much bigger than the baby’s so you don’t want to give an adult-sized breath which could pop the baby’s lung.
  • Before delivering the breaths, tip the baby’s head slightly back so that the baby’s nose points at the ceiling
  • Don’t give it too fast — watch for the baby’s chest to rise as you deliver the breath.
  • Deliver 2 breaths after every 30 compressions

5. Continue until help arrives or the baby resumes consciousness

  • Repeat the 30:2 cycle over and over until help arrives. If you have someone with you, you can rotate if one becomes tired but you both have the skills necessary


That’s it.  There really isn’t much to it, and yet it could potentially save your baby’s life.  Again, this doesn’t replace a course, so go find one here or here and get certified SOON.  Then you can revisit this blog anytime you need a refresher.

If you’d like to see me demonstrate these skills, please watch this video from my CoffeeTalk LIVE on 12/29/17.

Anyone who will be caring for a baby should also get certified.  This includes spouses, grandparents, friends, babysitters, and older siblings.  Additionally, these are great skills to have even if you don’t foresee yourself caring for a baby.  You never know when you may find yourself in a situation where you could save a life.


Please share this page and the accompanying video with your friends and family who need the information (EVERYBODY needs it). Have you ever had to use infant CPR?  Share your experiences below.  Also, if you have other questions or comments, I want to hear them below.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *