CPR for babies (less than 12 months of age)

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

PDF Versions Available

This fact sheet is available to print in the following languages:

What is CPR?

Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a life –saving practice which involves compressions and rescue breaths. Chest compressions pump blood around the body to the important organs, and breaths provide oxygen.

CPR Training for ParentsLearn how to perform CPR on a baby through a FREE online program at cprtrainingforparents.org.au
The knowledge and skills you learn in this program today, may SAVE a LIFE tomorrow. Remember, ANY attempt at CPR is better than no attempt.


DRS ABCD is an international approach designed to help people remember the seven steps involved in responding to a collapsed person. The steps are as follows.
• Check for DANGER
• Check for RESPONSE
• SEND for help
• Open the baby’s AIRWAY
• Check if the baby is BREATHING normally
• Start CPR
• DEFIBRILLATOR or an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

Check for Danger

Check for danger to yourself, the baby and to anyone else in the immediate area. If there is an obvious danger, remove the danger, or the baby away from the danger.

Check for Response

Once any danger has been removed, check for a response. To do this, place one hand on the baby’s forehead to steady the head. Use your other hand to gently squeeze the baby’s shoulder. Talk loudly for them to hear you.
The baby may respond by opening their eyes, making a noise or moving. If they respond, stay with them to make sure they recover.

Send for help

If the baby is unresponsive, send for help immediately by calling triple zero (000). If there is someone with you, ask them to make the call. You can then continue with the next steps in DRS ABCD. If you are on your own, you will need to make the call yourself.
When the operator answers, tell them you need an ambulance. Stay calm and speak slowly. The operator will ask you a number of questions to make sure that the right help is sent as quickly as possible. Once you have answered all of the questions, DO NOT hang up the phone. The operator will be able to give you advice while you wait for the ambulance.

Open the baby’s Airway

When a baby is unconscious, their muscles may relax. The tongue can fall to the back of their mouth and cover their airway. This will stop air from entering the lungs.
To open the airway, place the baby in a neutral position, as described below, and use a chin lift.

Lay the baby on their back, on a firm surface. Make sure their head is not tilted forwards or backwards. To do a chin lift, support the lower jaw at the point of the chin. Use your fingers to lift the jaw up towards you.

If you see something blocking the airway, you may be able to remove it. If you can get to it easily, try to remove it, being careful not to push the item further in. Place the baby on their side and use your thumb and index finger to remove the object. The baby may recover as a result of you clearing the airway.
Check if the baby is Breathing normally
Normal breathing is important to keep a baby alive.
To check if the baby is breathing, keep the airway open and:
• look for movement of the baby’s chest and abdomen.
• listen for breathing sounds by placing your ear over the baby’s mouth and nose.
• feel for breaths on your face when listening for breathing sounds.

Look, listen and feel for up to 10 seconds.

If the baby is breathing normally, but is still not responding, place them in the recovery position. Check them regularly to make sure their condition doesn’t worsen while you wait for the ambulance.

Start CPR

If the baby is not breathing normally, they will need CPR.
This includes both chest compressions and rescue breaths.
To give chest compressions, the baby should be placed lying on their back on a firm surface.
You can use 2 fingers or one hand to perform chest compressions, depending on the size of the baby and your individual strength.
To give compressions:
• Place your fingers or hand on the lower half of the breastbone, which is in the centre of the chest.
• Push down to 1/3rd of the depth of the chest 30 times, at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.
Once you have given 30 compressions, you should then give 2 breaths. It is important to pause the compressions when giving breaths.
To give breaths, place the baby’s head in a neutral position, using a chin lift, as described earlier.

Take a breath yourself. Open your mouth as widely as possible and place it over the baby’s mouth and nose. Blow enough air to see agentle rise of their chest.

If you are unable to or prefer not to give breaths, you can do chest compressions only. These can be continued at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. There is no need to stop as you would when giving breaths.
Keep to this process of giving 30 compressions to 2 breaths until the ambulance arrives and takes over or the baby begins to respond.
Defibrillator or an AED
It is unlikely that a baby will need a shock from an AED. Concentrate on providing effective CPR while you wait for the ambulance.


  • Send for help by calling triple zero (000)
  • Learn how to help a collapsed baby by completing a FREE online module at cprtrainingforparents.org.au
  • Any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt.
The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick
Hunter New England Kids Health

For publications recommended by our hospitals' experts, please visit the Kids Health book shop.