CPR for infants under 12 months old


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving procedure that is used in emergencies.

It involves: 

  1. chest compressions to help circulate blood through the body
  2. mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths to give oxygen to the lungs. 

Anyone can perform CPR, even if you are not a health professional.

Attempting CPR is always better than doing nothing.

CPR can be lifesaving when an infant:

  • is unconscious or collapsed
  • is not responding to you
  • is not breathing, or is breathing abnormally
  • is having heart issues or their heart has stopped.

This fact sheet does not replace accredited CPR or first aid training courses.

CPR for babies (under 12 months)

DRS ABCD is a quick, seven-step process that will help you give CPR appropriately.

Check for DANGER

Check for danger to yourself, the infant and anyone else in the area.

If it is safe to do so:

  • move the danger out of the way
  • move your infant and yourself away.

For example, if your infant becomes unconscious in water, you will take them out of the water to remove the danger.

Check for RESPONSE

Use “talk and touch” to check for a response.

  1. place one hand on your infant's forehead
  2. place your other hand on your infant's shoulder and squeeze gently
  3. speak to your infant in a loud, gentle voice.

Do not shake your infant. This can cause serious injury and death.

Your infant may respond by:

  • opening their eyes
  • making a noise
  • moving their body.

If your infant responds, place them on their side. Keep them comfortable while you watch to see how they respond.

If you are worried, see your local doctor or go to your nearest emergency department.

SEND for help

If your infant is not responding, call an ambulance on:

  • Triple Zero (000) 
  • The international emergency number (112) from digital mobile phones only.

Ask someone nearby to call the ambulance and wait with you if possible.

Put the phone on speaker and follow any instructions.

Remember to stay calm, answer any questions and do not hang up the phone.

Open the AIRWAYS

Check that your infant’s airways are open by:

  1. laying them on a firm surface, on their back
  2. using your fingers to lift their chin bone upwards, towards you.

Look inside their nose and mouth to see if anything is blocking the airways. 

If you see:

  1. fluid:  turn the infant onto their side to help drain the fluid out
  2. an object:  turn the infant onto their side and use your thumb and index finger in a pincer grip to remove the object. 
    Only do this if the object is easy to access and be careful not to push it further into the throat.


Check whether the infant is breathing normally by keeping the airways open, placing your ear close to their face and:

  • LOOKING to see whether their chest and stomach are moving
  • LISTENING for the sound of breathing
  • FEELING whether there is air coming out of their nose or mouse.

Do this for ten seconds.

If your infant starts to breathe normally, roll them onto their side and stay with them until the ambulance arrives.

If the infant is not breathing normally, they will need CPR.

Start CPR

If your infant is still not responding or breathing properly, you will need to start CPR.

To perform CPR:

  1. find the centre of your infant's chest, around the lower half of their breastbone
  2. place two fingers or one hand, depending on the size of your infant's chest and your strength
  3. push your infant's chest down by about 1/3 of its depth, at a fast pace of around 100-120 compressions per minute
  4. repeat this 30 times 
  5. after 30 compressions, open the infants mouth by tilting their chin up towards you
  6. take a big breath in
  7. put your mouth over the infants mouth and nose
  8. blow air out gently 
  9. watch to see the infants chest rise and fall.

Continue the cycle of 30 pushes and 2 breathes until:

  • your infant starts to respond – they move, start to breathe normally, cry or cough
  • the ambulance arrives and a paramedic takes over from you.

If your infant starts to respond, roll them onto their side and stay with them until the ambulance arrives.

If you become tired and cannot continue safely, ask another adult close by to take over for a few cycles. 

If you are unable to or prefer not to give breaths, continue to give chest compressions without stopping until the ambulance arrives.


In most cases, it is unlikely that you will need to use a defibrillator or Automated defibrillator on an infant.

Follow instructions over the phone from Triple Zero (000) and continue CPR while you wait for the ambulance to arrive.

Last updated Monday 6th May 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024