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Performing CPR on a child requires a combination of rescue breaths and chest compressions. For CPR purposes, a child is defined as any person over the age of one and younger than ten.

When to perform CPR on a child

CPR should only be performed if a child has stopped breathing and has no pulse. The American Heart Association now recommends starting chest compressions right away on an unresponsive child, instead of doing mouth to mouth first, as was previously recommended.

Checking a child for a pulse

There are a couple different ways to check a child’s pulse. The most prominent way is to check their carteroid artery by placing two fingers on their throat, underneath their chin and just to the right or left of their spine. This is generally the easiest area to find a pulse. You can also put two fingers around the wrist. It’s important not to press too hard; this will actually make it more difficult to detect a pulse. You want to apply just enough pressure to feel the artery without pushing it down or out of the way. Practice this regularly on your child so that you know how to find their pulse in an emergency.

CPR for kids: Performing chest compressions on a child in 3 easy steps

Step 1: Place one hand on top of the other in the center of your child’s chest. Your palm should be approximately 1 to 2 finger widths from the edge of your child’s sternum (where the rib cage ends and the stomach begins).

Step 2: Firmly and quickly push down on their chest. You want to push around 2 inches deep, at a rate of 90 times a minute. Don’t be timid about it; most parents don’t push deeply enough. If you push too little, you’re not actually compressing the heart to keep blood circulating.

Step 3: Do this for 30 chest compressions, then stop to give 2 rescue breaths. Repeat this sequence for two minutes before stopping to call 911, If no one else is around to call for you. Return with the phone (or bring your child to the phone) to resume CPR. Continue this cycle of chest compressions and rescue breaths until your child recovers or until help arrives.

Practicing CPR for children

It helps to go through the motions of performing CPR on your own child so that you are ready should the moment arise. However, DO NOT PERFORM ACTUAL CHEST COMPRESSIONS OR BLOW AIR INTO YOUR CHILD, merely practice the routine. Strip them of their shirt if they’re willing and run through the process. Practice will help ensure you can act properly in an actual emergency. Just stop short of performing the actual procedure; CPR is a medical procedure that should only be done in an emergency.

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