What to do if your baby is unconscious and not breathing

First check Danger, Response, Airway and Breathing – If you are not absolutely sure whether or not they are breathing, you will need to start CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation)

tilt head and lift chin for a babybaby breaths

Tilt the head and lift the chin to horizontal             Give 5 rescue breaths

Carefully tilt the head and lift the chin to roughly a horizontal position to take the tongue off the back of the airway then give 5 rescue breaths to re-oxygenate them. Babies and children are much more likely to have had a breathing problem first and had a Respiratory Arrest – their heart will stop later.

  • Seal your mouth around their mouth and nose (if you can fit your mouth over both) and blow into them gently with a puff of your cheeks.
  • Make sure their chest rises each time – if it doesn’t, you probably haven’t opened the airway sufficiently – tilt it a little further DO NOT OVER EXTEND IT and try again.
  • If they start to gurgle when you breathe into them, you will need to briefly turn them onto their side and empty the vomit from their mouth, before continuing with the breaths.

millie push on chest

Push down by a third of their depth

You will then need to circulate the oxygenated blood by pushing down hard and fast on their chest with two fingers or thumbs.

  • Push hard and fast on the centre of their chest – roughly between the nipples
  • Push down by a third of the depth of their chest – ideally with two thumbs or fingers.
  • At a rate of  110 -120 beats per minute – roughly 2 per second

After about 30 compressions…you will need to give them 2 more short sharp breaths and then continue with the compressions again. 30:2:30:2:30:2…

Keep going – You are being a life support machine and keeping them alive.

When you push on the chest – you are being the heart

When you breathe into them – you are being the lungs


If you are on your own, you should perform 1 minute’s CPR before phoning for an ambulance (5 breaths, 30:2, 30:2 is about a minute)

Do not expect them to come back to life until the paramedics are there to help.

Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life

It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit firstaidforlife.org.uk for more information about our courses.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.


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