There are a few circumstances that could occur where you'd need to spring into action and apply your CPR skills. Learning how to perform these techniques might seem a little scary, but it's always much better to be as prepared for the unexpected as possible, in case your little one does stop breathing or get into a wheezing, choking or coughing fit.
first things first
If the situation seems serious and your child is unable to breathe, dial 999.
Next, make sure the area's clear and that there aren't any potential hazards lying about. Ask your child if they're okay – if they're able to respond (either by speaking or moving), leave them where they are. If they don't respond, shout for help and gently roll them onto their back.
opening the airway
For children over the age of one, open up their airway by softly placing your fingertips on their forehead to tilt their head back. At the same time, lift their chin with your other hand. It's slightly different for babies and children who are under one – make sure their head and neck are in line before using your fingertips to lift their chin. For both, be careful not to press down as this could block up their airway. If there's a risk that they've hurt their neck, tilt as slowly as you can.
checking their breathing
Once you're holding their airway open, get close to your child's face and check their chest. You're looking for chest movements, breathing sounds and air movement. 10 seconds is long enough to spend deciding whether they're breathing or not. If their breathing seems normal, turn them on their side while you wait for the ambulance or help to arrive. If they're not breathing, follow the steps for mouth-to-mouth.
mouth-to-mouth for children under one
With their chin lifted and head in a neutral position, take a deep breath and then seal your baby's mouth and nose with your mouth. If you can't cover both at once, just choose one. Blow a steady breath into their mouth and nose for one second – the breath should be big enough to make their chest rise. Keep their head and chin in the same position, remove your mouth and watch their chest fall as the air escapes. This should be repeated four times.
mouth-to-mouth for children over one
For children over a year old, keep their head tilted and chin lifted. Close the soft part of their nose, then open their mouth a little bit (with their chin still pointing upwards). Take a big breath and seal their mouth with yours, before steadily blowing out for one second – again, this should be enough to make their chest rise. With everything still tilted, take your mouth away and watch their chest fall as the air leaves. Repeat four times.
what if it works?
If your child is able to move, speak or cough after you've given mouth-to-mouth, keep doing it until they start breathing normally by themselves again. Put them on their side, into the recovery position, and send for help. While you wait, keep a careful eye on their breathing and repeat any steps is necessary.
what if something's blocking their airway?
If you can't get your child's chest to rise when you blow into their mouth, it could be that there's something blocking their airway. If this is the case, open their mouth and take out any visible obstructions – if you can't see anything, don't just poke around blindly, though. Make up to five attempts to get their chest to rise by following the mouth-to-mouth steps before combining these with chest compressions.
combining mouth-to-mouth with chest compressions
Find where the lowest ribs join in the middle and press one finger’s width above that point. For babies, just use the tips of two fingers but for children over one you can use the heel of your hand. Push down 4cm for a baby and 5cm for a child, and rapidly repeat so you're doing around 100-120 compressions per minute.
After 30 compressions, lift the chin to give two rescue breaths, and repeat until your child starts moving, coughing or breathing again.