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Differences in CPR for Children and Adults

May 26, 2022

Did you know CPR differs in practice depending on age? CPR for an infant is different than CPR for a child, which is also different from CPR for an adult. CPR outcomes among infants, children, and adults are tracked by the American Heart Association (AHA), which allows the regulations to stay up to date on the ways CPR changes over time. When your actions mean the difference between life and death, it’s important to keep up with changes over time and ensure the correct methods of CPR for each age group are understood.


Adult CPR

Only about 10% of adults that fall victim to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) survive, and 20% of those end up suffering from a reduced functional status. This means timing is imperative to preserve life and brain function.

When conducting CPR in any capacity, it’s important to first dial 911. If you’re with a group of people, have someone else call 911 and begin CPR immediately. If you’re alone with the victim, call 911 and then begin resuscitation. Begin adult CPR with Hands-Only CPR. This entails performing 100-120 chest compressions per minute to the tune “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees—a tempo of 100-120 beats per minute.

Chest compressions need to be administered to the center of the chest, with fingers interlaced, using the heel of your palm for pressure application. Don’t be alarmed if the person’s chest sinks as you’re pressing it. Your hands will press about 2 inches into the chest—this is completely normal.


Child CPR

CPR for children is much the same as that for adults. The age of the child is key in determining what types of chest compression to perform. Teenagers can receive CPR up to a depth of 6cm, and for prepubescent children, it’s important not to exceed a depth of 2 inches.

Like adults, 100-120 compressions per minute are required. For children, rescue breaths have been determined to be beneficial. A rescue breath entails breathing directly into a person’s mouth while slightly tipping their head back, pushing the air into their lungs. If you’re alone with the victim, perform 2 breaths for every 30 compressions. If you have a partner helping you perform CPR, perform 2 breaths for every 15 compressions. Pinch the child’s nose shut to form a complete seal over their mouth with yours when conducting pediatric CPR.


Infant CPR

Infant CPR should only be performed when responding to babies less than a year old. A youngster above a year old is considered a child when conducting CPR. After checking for consciousness by lightly pressing the child’s foot, call 911 and begin chest compressions. Perform 5 cycles of CPR, then try to retrieve an AED or try to gain further assistance.

When conducting chest compressions on children it’s important to keep that 100-120 beat tempo, but the way chest compressions are carried out is entirely different from child or adult CPR. In a single-rescuer scenario, place the two middle fingers of your dominant hand on the infant’s chest and push an inch and a half deep. In a two-rescuer situation, wrap your hands around the infant’s midsection and use your thumbs to perform the same chest compressions. Rescue breaths are conducted the same as during child CPR.


It’s impossible to catch every accident before it happens, which is why proper certifpication in life-saving skills is so important. At Specialized Health and Safety, we offer adult and pediatric CPR classes to groups of all sizes. Whether you’re seeking to make your office or home safer, we can help you get CPR certified.