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Infant Choking/CPR Guidelines

March 18, 2017

Even the most diligent parents cannot always avoid accidents. Babies are curious by nature, and any small objects they find could likely end up in their mouth.  At Owlet, we care deeply about the safety of babies everywhere. And although we all hope we will never be faced with a life-threatening situation involving our babies, it is important to be aware of potentially dangerous situations common to babies and to know how to react in those situations.

This post is intended to provide you with the basic skills pertaining to infant choking and CPR. However we recommend looking up a Child and Baby CPR class near you for comprehensive instruction and training in life-saving skills. The American Red Cross offers these classes frequently and they only last a few hours, but the information you will learn is priceless. You can look up a class near you by following this link.

Infant Choking

If you notice the baby is unable to cry or make a sound, or is coughing weakly, follow these steps as outlined by the American Red Cross:

  • Check the scene: make sure it is safe to proceed.
  • Check the infant and send someone to call 9-1-1 immediately
  • If the infant is able to cough, encourage him/her to continue coughing.
  • If the infant cannot cough, cry or breathe, position the baby so that he/she is face down on your forearm, then brace that forearm on your thigh for support and so that the baby’s head is beneath his/her chest.
  • Secure the baby’s head and neck by holding the jaw between your thumb and forefinger
  • Give 5 back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand
  • If this does not dislodge the item, carefully turn the baby face-up on your forearm, again positioned against your thigh so that his/her head is lower than the chest
  • Give 5 chest thrusts using the pads of 2 or 3 fingers, pushing straight down about 1-1/2 inches.
  • Continue alternating between 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts until the item becomes dislodged, the infant can breathe or cough, or the baby becomes unconscious
  • If the baby becomes unconscious, carefully place the baby on the ground and begin CPR

Note: Open the baby’s mouth to check for visibility of the blockage, but ONLY insert your fingers into the baby’s mouth if the blockage is visible to prevent pushing the blockage deeper.

Infant CPR

If a baby is unconscious, unresponsive, or shows no signs of life, then CPR should be administered.  CPR stands for “cardiopulmonary resuscitation.” The purpose is to revive the infant and/or maintain the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and vital organs to prevent permanent damage or death.

CPR consists of chest compressions and rescue breaths, performed alternately.

Here are the steps for performing infant CPR as outlined by the American Red Cross:

  • Check the scene, and make sure it’s safe to proceed.
  • Check for responsiveness in the infant by flicking the bottom of their foot.
  • Instruct someone to call 9-1-1 or, after providing 2 minutes of CPR, call yourself.
  • Lay the child on his/her back and open the airway by tilting the head back slightly and lifting the chin.
  • Listen carefully for breathing, but for no longer than 10 seconds.
    • Note: Infants have periodic breathing, so an irregular breathing pattern should be considered normal.
  • Provide 2 rescue breaths by making a complete seal over the infant’s nose and mouth with your mouth, blowing for one second to make sure the chest rises, and then providing 2 rescue breaths.
  • Perform 2 chest compressions after the rescue breaths.
  • Complete the chest compressions by kneeling next to the infant, and place 2 fingers in the center of the chest just below the nipple line, with the other hand stabilizing the infant’s forehead. Deliver 30 quick compressions. The chest should be compressed about 1-1/2 inches.
  • Continue alternating between rescue breaths and chest compressions until you see signs of revival, an AED is available to use, an EMS or trained responder can take over, you’re too exhausted or it is unsafe to continue.




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Avatar for Angela Silva

Angela Silva

Angela graduated with her B.S. in Exercise and Wellness and is a NASM certified personal trainer who specializes in postpartum fitness and recovery. She enjoys writing, cracking jokes, and spending time with her family, preferably while fishing. She shares many of her life adventures on Instagram as @angelagrams

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