Drowning at bath time – baby not breathing

Many new parents are concerned about their baby not breathing from incidents such as drowning at bath time or stopping breathing in the night. If you discover that your baby is unresponsive or not breathing normally, it is important that you know what to do to give your baby the best chance of survival.

How to tell if your baby is unresponsive

Unconscious baby - check for breathing
  1. 1. Gently tap or flick the sole of their foot. Call their name and see if they respond. Never shake an infant. If they are not responding, they could be unresponsive.

  2. 2. Open their airway. Place one hand on your baby’s forehead and gently tilt the head back. Use your other hand to gently lift the point of the chin.

  3. 3. Look, listen and feel for normal breathing. Is their chest moving? Can you hear sounds of breathing and feel breath on your cheek?

If your baby is unresponsive but breathing normally

Baby in the recovery position
  1. 1. If they are breathing normally, hold them in the recovery position. Cradle the baby in your arms with their head tilted downwards.

  2. 2. Call 999/112 for help, keep checking their breathing and be prepared to perform CPR if they stop breathing normally.




If your baby is unresponsive but not breathing normally

CPR baby rescue breaths
  1. 1. If your baby is not responding or breathing normally, call for someone to help. Tell your helper to call 999/112. If you’re on your own, follow the next steps to give CPR for one minute, then take your baby with you to call an ambulance.

  2. 2. Open their airway and make a seal with your mouth around their mouth and nose. Blow steadily into your baby’s mouth for one second. The chest should rise. When you take your mouth away, the chest should fall. This is one ‘puff’ (rescue breath). Give five ‘puffs’.

  3. 3. Now give 30 ‘pumps’ (chest compressions). Place two fingers of your lower hand on to the centre of the baby’s chest. Press down by one-third of the depth of the chest then release the pressure, keeping your fingers in contact with the chest. This is one ‘pump’. Give 30 ‘pumps’.
CPR baby step 2 chest thrust

  1. 4. Continue with two more ‘puffs’ and 30 ‘pumps’.

  2. 5. Continue CPR with two ‘puffs’ to 30 ‘pumps’ until experienced help arrives and can take over from you, your baby starts to become responsive and breathe normally again, or you become too exhausted to carry on.

  3. 6. If they start breathing normally again, put them in the recovery position. Cradle them in your arms, with their head tilted downwards.

To receive a copy of our free Baby First Aid Guide, please email fundraising@sja.org.uk with your details and we will get one sent out to you. N.B. To receive a guide you must have a UK postal address.

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