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Infant Heimlich Maneuver and CPR

According to the American Heart Association, there are between 1,900 and 14,200 pediatric cardiac arrests that occur each year outside of a hospital. The average ambulance response time is 10 to 12 minutes, but a child whose heart has stopped will have irreversible brain damage within 4 to 6 minutes and will die within 8 to 10 minutes. Learning infant Heimlich maneuver and CPR could save the life of your child or another in your care.

The following are some guidelines for performing the Heimlich maneuver and CPR on an infant younger than one year old. However, these are simply guidelines and you should take an infant/child CPR course to ensure you are fully educated and prepared to react in an emergency. You can find a class in your area on the American Red Cross Website at

Infant Heimlich Maneuver

If your baby is suddenly unable to cry or cough or turns bright red or blue she may be choking. If she is coughing or gagging, her airway is only partially blocked and you should let her try to cough the obstruction out. If she cannot cough, check to see if she is breathing by watching her chest for rising and falling and listen for the sound of her breathing. However, do not spend more than 30 seconds determining whether she is breathing.

If there are other people nearby, shout loudly for someone to call 911. If you are alone, take your baby with you to the phone and call 911 while you try to dislodge the object in her throat.

Hold your baby face down lengthwise on your forearm. Support her head with your hand and position her so her head is lower than the rest of her body, bracing your forearm against your thigh. If your baby is too big for your arm, lay her face down on your lap, making sure her head is lower than the rest of her body.

Deliver five firm back blows between your baby's shoulder blades, using the palm of your hand. If she begins coughing or crying, stop and allow her to try to cough up the object. However, if you get no response, lay her face up on the ground or on your arm and locate her sternum (imagine a line between her nipples, and measure one finger-width down from the middle of that line). Position two fingers on her sternum and give five upward chest thrusts, each about 1/2 to one inch deep. Continue to alternate between the back blows and chest thrusts until the object is dislodged, your baby begins to breathe on her own, she loses consciousness, or medical help arrives.

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