Nov 12, 2023

How to Perform Toddler CPR

by Rande Ludwig

Toddlers love exploring the world, but with that comes the risk of injury. Many toddlers love to put things in their mouths or run around while eating. This can lead to choking and the necessity for CPR. Knowing how to perform toddler CPR correctly is a skill every parent or caregiver should have in their tool belt.

Performing toddler CPR is a scary experience for any parent or caregiver. Learning the correct steps for toddler CPR is essential, but so is learning ways to prevent choking, which can lead to the need for CPR. By knowing how to perform toddler CPR, you can be prepared if an emergency arises with your little explorer.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a hands-on action to help someone when their heart stops beating. When a child's heart stops beating, blood cannot reach the brain and lungs. Chest compressions keep blood moving through the body, and giving the child breaths helps provide oxygen to their lungs.1

Even though it is not common for a child's heart to stop beating, there are a few reasons why this might happen, including the following:2

Performing CPR on a toddler can be frightening. Knowing how to perform toddler CPR properly will help you remain calm and focused and better able to help. According to the American Red Cross, the steps for performing toddler CPR are as follows:3

Toddlers have small airways that can easily become blocked as they learn to chew their food properly. When something blocks their airway, oxygen and blood cannot reach their brain. It can be difficult to spot the signs of choking, but if you know what to look for, you will easily spot a child in trouble. Some signs of choking include:4

If the toddler can cough forcefully, or they can talk, cry or laugh, do not intervene, as the object is most likely to come out on its own.4

Removing the object from your toddler's airway involves the Heimlich maneuver. This technique uses abdominal thrusts to help expel the object from your toddler's airway. Follow these steps to perform abdominal thrusts:5

You can also perform back blows if you cannot do abdominal thrusts. The steps to performing back blows are as follows:5

If at any time your child stops breathing, stop performing abdominal thrusts or back blows and begin CPR. Call 9-1-1 and continue CPR until help arrives. If you see the object in the child's mouth and it is loose, remove it. If you can see the object, but it is in their throat or not loose, do not try and remove it. You can accidentally push the object further into their throat.5

Working on eliminating choking hazards is the best way to prevent your toddler from choking. Properly preparing food will help to reduce the risk of your toddler choking. Here are a few tips:6

Learning CPR is not only a vital skill to learn, but it will also help you to stay calm during an emergency. A hands-on learning course is one of the best ways to learn CPR. You can sign up for a hands-on CPR skills class through your local chapter of the American Red Cross.

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