Would you know what to do if an infant or child in your care was suddenly unresponsive and not breathing? It’s terrifying to think about it. Yet, many new parents and caregivers have not attended infant CPR classes and don’t know how to perform CPR on a young baby or child.
Unfortunately, childhood accidents and injuries are not uncommon. No one likes to think about an infant or child struggling for life but preparing for any eventualities is the best way to improve the child’s chances of survival.
When you know how to apply infant or child CPR effectively, it gives you greater power in protecting your family. Knowing how to respond if you happen to be in such a highly-stressful medical emergency also gives you peace of mind.
Since becoming a teacher in 2004, I’ve been required to achieve and maintain a first aid qualification as part of my teacher registration. It is recommended that you renew first aid qualifications every 3 years and undertake refresher training in CPR every year in Australia. Last year, my youngest son had a horrible accident where he fell 4 meters over a staircase railing. I don’t think my heart will ever completely recover from that experience.
However, looking back now, I’m so grateful that I had first aid training and put into practice some of the things I have learned. While I didn’t have to give actual CPR in this particular circumstance, the training certainly helped me assess the situation and make fast decisions. I knew how to check for his responsiveness and breathing and place him in a safe position until the ambulance arrived.
That horrible, terrifying experience has shown me that you cannot predict childhood accidents. Still, you can prepare for how to respond, which is why I’ll forever be grateful for the child CPR and first aid training.
What is CPR?
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique performed on someone who suffers a heart attack or stops breathing. You can use CPR in many emergencies, but it’s more often during infant choking, suffocation, or drowning for kids. When you effectively administer CPR, it keeps the oxygen flowing through the child’s body as you wait for help to arrive.
The human brain can only survive for about 5 minutes without oxygen. The longer a person goes without oxygen, the higher the chances of severe brain damage or death. Hence successfully performing CPR can make the difference between the life and death of an infant, child, or adult. CPR also takes a proactive approach during an emergency; thus, knowing what to do can help a parent or caregiver stay a bit calmer.
Chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing help push oxygen into the casualty’s lungs and the brain to keep them alive. It’s a simple technique that you need to perform correctly to be effective; therefore, learning to administer CPR is an excellent idea.
Why should I learn infant and child CPR?
Learning how to administer pediatric CPR could quite literally save a child’s life. When you know what to do when a child in your care needs lifesaving intervention, it certainly makes everyone feel just a bit safer. Understanding the correct breathing technique and compression rates can help sustain your child’s life until an ambulance, or trained health professional arrives—dramatically changing an accident’s outcome.
Anyone who’s not breathing and unconscious requires CPR. There are some key differences in administering CPR on an infant or child compared to an adult. For instance, the CPR breathing technique and compression rates are slightly different for babies.
The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 7000 children suffer from cardiac arrests outside of a hospital each year in America alone and that 70% of all cardiac arrests occur at home. In babies, infant choking and unintentional suffocation are common causes.
The AHA recommends that anyone who interacts with babies or children should complete a CPR course. This includes parents, grandparents, babysitters, nannies, teachers, friends, relatives, and even siblings. Anyone in contact with children should ensure that they have the skills required to perform lifesaving CPR to give them the best possible survival chance.
How to perform CPR on a child or baby
The vast majority of accredited first aid providers now recommend the following steps for assessing an emergency and administering CPR. DRSABCD stands for Danger, Response, Send for help, Airway, Breathing, CPR, and Defibrillation.
Understand that these steps are critical in keeping you safe as well as the casualty. So what do each of these steps mean?
Check for danger and make sure the area is safe for you and that there are no risks to others.
Check to see if the casualty can respond to your touch or voice. Gently squeeze the infant or child’s shoulders and speak to them loudly but be careful never to shake them.
3. Send for help
At this point, if your child is not responding, you should call for an ambulance.
Lift the baby or child’s chin into a neutral position. Check if there are any blockages in the mouth, such as vomit or an object. Scoop it out with your finger if possible.
Look, listen, and feel if the infant or child is breathing normally. If they are, place them facedown along your forearm. Place them onto their side if it’s an older child. If your child isn’t breathing, you can begin CPR.
Lie the baby or child on their back and begin compressions. Use your hands for a child but only 2 fingers for a baby. Press the center of the chest and push down to one-third of the depth of the chest.
Complete 30 compressions and then pause to give 2 breaths. To do this, place your mouth over your child’s mouth with their nose pinched. For a baby, put your mouth over their mouth and nose and gently “puff” 2 rescue breaths.
Alternate between the compressions and breaths until help arrives or until you are too exhausted to continue. If your child begins to breathe normally again or becomes responsive, stop CPR and place them into the recovery position. Watch and monitor their condition until help arrives.
If there is a defibrillator device available, attach the pads and follow the prompts on the machine.
The above steps are covered in detail through infant CRR training, and in there, you get to practice the techniques on specialized CPR mannequins. These mannequins come in the sizes of infant, child, and adult, so depending on the course you’re taking, there’s an opportunity to practice CPR from infants to adults.
Accessing infant and child CPR classes
First aid and CPR courses are now more accessible than ever. The AHA even has an infant CPR training kit that you can purchase for home training. This training pack comes with everything you need to learn, including infant choking CPR. It only takes about 20 minutes to complete. This kit also makes it easy to regularly refresh the training at home and share it with other family members.
The AHA also offers a wide range of affordable and accredited first aid courses. Many of these courses provide either a face-to-face or an online infant CPR class. Once you complete some of the courses, you’re given a completion card which may be a requirement for some jobs.
It’s essential to check that the course you want to take meets any work-related requirements before booking. For instance, the American Red Cross online class that covers Child and Baby First Aid/CPR/AED doesn’t meet OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requirements for workplace certification.
Given the accessibility of infant and child CPR courses, it’s now easier than ever to learn the skills required to perform CPR effectively on an infant or child under your care. Incidents such as choking and drowning can happen in an instant and often without warning. Knowing how to respond could save your baby or child’s life, while not knowing how to respond could lead to a lifetime of regret.
If you haven’t been trained on administering CPR yet, please consider registering for a class today! You never know when you might need it.