CPR for children over 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 a child:

  • 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 children over 12 months old

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

Check for DANGER

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

If it is safe to do so:

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

For example, if your child becomes unconscious in the 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 child's forehead
  2. place your other hand on your child's shoulder and squeeze gently
  3. speak to your child in a loud but gentle voice.

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

Your child may respond by:

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

If your child responds, place them on their side. Keep them comfortable while you watch them.

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

SEND for help

If your child 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 child’s airways are open by:

  1. laying them on their back
  2. placing one hand on their forehead and gently tilting the head back with your other hand
  3. using your thumb and fingers to open your child’s mouth and gently lifting their jaw up towards you.

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

If you see:

  • fluid:  turn the child onto their side to help drain the fluid out
  • an object:  turn the child 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 child 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 child starts to breathe normally, roll them onto their side and stay with them until the ambulance arrives.

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

Start CPR

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

To perform CPR:

  1. Place the heel of your hand on the centre of your child's chest, around the lower half of their breastbone
  2. Place your other hand on top, if your child is older or bigger
  3. push your child'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 child’s mouth by using the same head tilt and jaw lift you did to check their airways
  6. take a big breath in
  7. put your mouth over the child’s mouth
  8. blow air out gently 
  9. watch to see the child’s chest rise and fall.

Continue the cycle of 30 pushes and 2 breathes until:

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

If your child 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.


An Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that gives an electric shock to get the heart beating normally again. They are programmed to automatically analyse your child’s heartbeat and give an appropriate shock.

AEDs are commonly found in public places like:

  • shopping centres
  • airports
  • workplaces
  • parks
  • community centres.

An AED should be used if one is available. Ask a nearby adult to find the closest AED and bring it to you while you stay on the phone with Triple Zero (000) and continue with CPR.

Turn the AED on, switch it to the right setting based on your child’s age and follow the prompts.

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