How to resuscitate a child

This page provides the full detailed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) sequence for infants (babies under 1 year old) and children.

It's highly recommended that every parent or carer goes on a first aid course, as it makes this process much easier to understand and remember.

If a baby or child is unresponsive and not breathing normally, call 999 and start CPR straight away.

When you call 999 for an ambulance, you should be given basic life-saving instructions over the phone, including advice about CPR.

Child and baby CPR steps

1. Ensure the area is safe

2. Check your child's responsiveness

3a. If your child responds by answering or moving

3b. If your child does not respond

If the child is under 1 year old:

If the child is over 1 year old:

If you think there may have been an injury to the neck, tilt the head carefully, a small amount at a time, until the airway is open. Opening the airway takes priority over a possible neck injury.

4. Check their breathing

Keeping the airway open, look, listen and feel for normal breathing by putting your face close to your child's face and looking along their chest.

Look, listen and feel for no more than 10 seconds before deciding that they're not breathing. Gasping breaths should not be considered to be normal breathing.

5a. If your child is breathing normally

5b. If your child is not breathing or is breathing infrequently and irregularly

Rescue breaths for a baby under 1 year

Rescue breaths for a child over 1 year

5c. Obstructed airway

If you have difficulty achieving effective breathing in your child, the airway may be obstructed.

6. Assess the circulation (signs of life)

Look for signs of life. These include any movement, coughing, or normal breathing – not abnormal gasps or infrequent, irregular breaths.

Signs of life present

If there are definite signs of life:

No signs of life present

If there are no signs of life:

7. Chest compressions: general guidance

Although the rate of compressions will be 100-120 a minute, the actual number delivered will be fewer because of the pauses to give breaths.

The best method for compression varies slightly between infants and children.

Chest compression in babies less than 1 year

Chest compression in children over 1 year

If you had no response to your call for help and you're alone, continue resuscitation for about 1 minute before trying to get help – for example, by calling 999.

8. Continue resuscitation until

Further information on first aid

Page last reviewed: 28 September 2022
Next review due: 28 September 2025