Do I HAVE to Learn Child CPR??

The obvious answer is ‘No, of course you don’t have to,’ but:

From the National Institutes of Health …

“All parents and those who take care of children should learn infant and child CPR if they haven’t already. This jewel of knowledge is something no parent should be without.”

These are among the most guilt-inducing words a mom can hear, no?  CPR training is one of those things that many of us put off … and put off, and put off.  We know we should, but the mere thought of it raises the anxiety level a notch or two.  It may be magical thinking, but … gosh, if we learn it we may have to use it, right?

Well, we all know that accidents happen, and there are lots of ways kids can collide with danger.  Maybe having the tools to respond immediately can help squelch the fear, rather than fan it.  So in the interest of peace of mind, we’re going to give you the basics right here.

The following steps are based on instructions from the American Heart Association.  If a child appears unresponsive:

1) Tap or nudge the child to check for a response. If the child moves or makes a sound, loudly ask “Are you OK?”

2) If there’s no response, shout for help and ask someone to call 911.

3) Lift the chin, tilt the head by pressing on the forehead with the other hand, and check for breathing.

4) If no breathing, pinch the nose and give 2 rescue breaths lasting about 1 second each.

5) THEN perform chest compressions, placing the heel of one hand on the breastbone just at the nipple line (not at the very end of the breastbone). Keep the other hand on the forehead with head tilted.  Give 30 compressions fast and hard to about 1/3 the depth of the chest, allowing it to rise completely between. Count to 30 quickly with no pause.

6) Check for breathing and pulse. If child isn’t breathing, repeat 2 rescue breaths and chest compressions.

7) Continue until help arrives.

8) If the child starts breathing, place him lying on his side until help arrives.

Timing is important. These basic steps performed in the critical minutes after a child stops breathing can prevent permanent brain damage.

Of course it’s best to take a certified course, so once you’ve mastered these tips, get brave and go to to find one in your neighborhood.

Now, doesn’t that feel better?  What a great accomplishment for the new year!

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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2 responses to “Do I HAVE to Learn Child CPR??”

  1. B.E.CPR

    I strongly encourage parents and caregivers to take a quick CPR course. These 90 minutes can make the difference between life and death. You can find a list of courses nationwide in this non-profit web site and share your experiences there.

  2. Lizzie Rosenberg

    Here is a Westchester based paramedic & nurse owned CPR business! Good Luck!

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