How to Do CPR on a Child

There is no substitute for proper training. However, emergencies wait for no one. Use these steps to provide CPR to children 1 to 8 years old.

For babies under 1-year-old, do infant CPR.

Rescuer performing child CPR with one hand on a practice dummy
Mihajlo Maricic / EyeEm / Getty Images


  1. Stay safe. Children may be infected with contagious diseases. If you are concerned about possible exposure to a contagious disease, practice universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment, if available.
  2. Try to wake the child. Gently tap or shake the child's shoulders and call out their name in a loud voice. Don't hurt the child, but be aggressive—you're trying to wake them up. If the child does not wake up, have someone call 911 immediately. If no one else is available to call 911 and the child is not breathing, continue to step 3 and do CPR for about 2 minutes before calling 911.
  3. Begin chest compressions. If the child is not breathing, put one hand on the breastbone directly between the child's nipples. Push straight down about 2 inches—or about a third of the thickness of the child's chest—and then let the chest all the way back up. Do that 30 times, about twice per second or 100 to 120 times per minute. If you've been trained in CPR and you remember how to give rescue breaths, go to step 4. If not, just keep doing chest compressions and go to step 5.
  4. Give the child two breaths. After pushing on the chest 30 times, cover the child's mouth with your mouth and pinch his nose closed with your fingers. Gently blow until you see his chest rise. Let the air escape—the chest will go back down—and give one more breath. If no air goes in when you try to blow, adjust the child's head and try again. If that doesn't work, then skip it and go back to chest compressions (step 3), you can try rescue breaths again after 30 more compressions.
  5. Keep doing CPR and call 911 after 2 minutes. If you are by yourself, keep doing CPR for 2 minutes (about 5 groups of compressions) before calling 911. If someone else is there or comes along as you are doing CPR, have that person call 911. Even if the child wakes up, you need to call 911 any time you had to do CPR. Once 911 has been called or you have someone else calling, keep doing CPR. Don't stop until help arrives or the child wakes up.


  • When checking for breathing, if you're not sure then assume the child isn't breathing. It's much worse to assume a kid is breathing and not do anything than to assume he or she isn't and start rescue breaths.
  • When giving rescue breaths, using a CPR mask helps with making a proper seal and keeps vomit out of the rescuer's mouth.
  • Put a book under the child's shoulders—if you have time—to help keep his or her head tilted back.
  • When asking someone else to call 911, make sure you tell them why they are calling. If not, they may not tell the 911 dispatcher exactly what's going on. If the dispatcher knows a child isn't breathing or responding, the dispatcher may be able to give you instructions to help. If you call 911, be calm and listen carefully.
3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. CPR - infant.

  2. The American Red Cross. Child & Baby CPR.

  3. Serin S, Caglar B. The effect of different personal protective equipment masks on health care workers’ cardiopulmonary resuscitation performance during the covid-19 pandemic. J Emerg Med. 2021;60(3):292-298. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2020.11.005

Additional Reading

By Rod Brouhard, EMT-P
Rod Brouhard is an emergency medical technician paramedic (EMT-P), journalist, educator, and advocate for emergency medical service providers and patients.