Unconscious and not breathing – infants
If an infant does not respond to the sound of your voice or
to gentle pressure, it is likely they are unconscious.
In this context, 'infant' refers to a child less than one year
Recognition and treatment
- To confirm if the infant is unconscious
and not breathing complete the steps of
the primary survey - Danger, Response,
Airway, Breathing (DRAB).
Check for danger
- Are you or they in any danger?
- If you have not already done so make the area safe and then
Check for a response
- Tap or flick the sole of an infant's foot to try to elicit a
- Do not shake an infant
- If they respond, refer to the treatment for someone
unconscious but breathing -
- Shout for help.
Open the airway
- Help them to breath by opening their airway
- To do this, place one hand on the forehead and
using one finger lift the chin.
- Position your cheek close to their mouth
- Look, listen and feel for no more than 10 seconds:
- look to see if the chest is rising and falling
- listen for breathing
- feel the breath against your cheek
- If they are not breathing commence cardiopulmonary
Call for help
- If you have someone with you, send them to dial
999 (or 112) for an ambulance
- If you are on your own carry out CPR
for one minute before dialling 999 (or 112) for an
Give 5 rescue breaths
- Ensure the airway is open
- Seal your lips around the infant's mouth and nose
- Blow gently into the lungs, looking along the chest as you
- Fill your cheeks with air and use this amount each time
- As the chest rises, stop blowing and allow it to fall
- Repeat this five times.
Give 30 compressions
- Place the baby on a firm surface
- Locate a position in centre of the chest, it is possible to
identify the correct hand position without removing the infant's
- Using two fingers, press down sharply to
a third of the depth of the chest
- Press 30 times, at a rate of 100-120 compressions per
- After 30 compressions, give 2 rescue
- Continue resuscitation, 30 compressions to 2 rescue
- Do not stop unless:
- emergency help arrives and takes over
- they show signs of recovery such as coughing, opening eyes,
speaking or moving purposefully and breathing normally
- you become so exhausted that you cannot carry on.
More information about unconscious not breathing infants
(CPR) is a
technique whereby oxygen is pumped around the body using a
combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths.
Unable, unwilling or untrained to give rescue breaths
- Give chest compressions only and continue at a rate of
100-120 per minute (about the speed of the song 'Staying
Two trained rescuers
- Change every two minutes with minimal
This is common in the first few minutes after a sudden cardiac
arrest. It usually takes the form of sudden irregular gasps for
breath. It should not be mistaken for normal breathing and if it is
present chest compressions and rescue breaths (together called
cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR) should be started
Take a first aid course
The advice provided in this section is section is no substitute
for proper first aid training.
St John Ambulance holds first aid courses throughout the
country; these first aid courses cover this topic:
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