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The Basic Differences between Infant, Child, and Adult CPR

Adult CPR
Written by Nancy

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an emergency life-saving first aid procedure that is performed when the heart stops beating.

CPR for infants and children differs from CPR for adults, since they have different needs, skeletal systems, and physical robustness.

The reasons they could need CPR also differ greatly. If CPR is given to infants and children in the same way as it is given to adults, there could be more harm than good done.

CPR for adults

Adults could require CPR as a result of drowning, choking, or blocked airways—but most commonly due to strokes and cardiac arrests. For an adult who requires CPR:

  • Tap or shake the person to check whether they are conscious or unconscious.
  • Call 911 immediately before administering CPR. If the person is unconscious because of a blocked airway, administer CPR for a minute before calling 911.
  • Check the person’s pulse. You can check their pulse by applying slight pressure with your index and middle fingers near the person’s neck below the jaw, or at the person’s wrist.
  • Administer rescue breaths. If you don’t have CPR and AED training or occupational first aid training, then hands-only CPR is recommended.
  • Apply compression. Use the heels of both your hands and provide compression at the center of the chest. The compression depth for adults should be around two inches, and there should be 30 compressions for every two rescue breaths.

CPR for children

Children mostly need CPR due to blocked airways, since they have narrower airways than adults. It is also very common for children to choke due to foreign objects they ingested. For a child requiring CPR:

  • Tap or shake them to check whether they are conscious or unconscious.
  • Start CPR immediately. Children’s bodies are generally more resilient than adults, and the chances of survival for a child who has been given immediate CPR is 70% higher than if CPR is delayed. Call 911 after performing CPR for at least two minutes.
  • Check the child’s pulse in the same way you would for an adult.
  • Administer rescue breaths. If you don’t have CPR and AED training or occupational first aid training, then use hands-only CPR is recommended. Children’s airways are narrower, so make sure to not tilt the child’s head back too far, since this would actually make the situation direr. Administer rescue breaths gently.
  • Apply compression. Since children’s bodies—and, by extension, their chests—are smaller than adults’, using one hand is enough. The depth of compression should be around one and a half inches. There should be 30 compressions for every two rescue breaths.
  • Use an AED. If you have access to a defibrillator, use it after you have administered CPR for two minutes.

CPR for infants

Infants are very fragile and therefore need delicate handling. Infants generally need CPR in case of choking, drowning, or suffocation. To administer CPR to an infant:

  • Check whether the infant is conscious or unconscious. Do not tap or shake them, instead, stroke the baby or tap the soles of their feet, and check whether they respond in any way.
  • Perform CPR immediately. Call 911 after performing CPR for at least two minutes.
  • Check the infant’s pulse at their upper arm, instead of their neck or wrist.
  • Administer rescue breaths. The airways of infants are even narrower than those of children. Make sure that you administer rescue breaths very gently after tilting the infant’s head back with immense care until the “sniffer position” is reached.
  • Apply compression. Since infants are so small, you should use only two fingers at the center of their chest to apply compression, and apply 30 compressions for every two rescue breaths. The depth should be around one inch.

CPR/AED training and first aid training could save the life of someone you love. Metro Safety First Aid Training School provides first aid training at a variety of levels to students across British Columbia.

Call them at 604-521-4227 or email them at info@metrosafety.ca to find out more about their programs and help the people around you be a little safer.

About the author

Nancy

I’m Nancy and no, I didn’t always look like I do in that picture on the right. My foray into health and fitness began as a brace-faced, 16 year-old who was too afraid to wear a two-piece at the beach because I felt my body paled in comparison to my much more toned friends.

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