Emergencies - CPR

Emergencies - CPR

Children and infants who are not responding and not breathing normally will need CPR. 

CPR on infants

Dr. Tony Smith, St John medical director demonstrates how to perform CPR on infants.

Hato Hone | St John New Zealand


How can I learn CPR (rescue breathing and chest compressions)?

Learn CPR before you need it. 

All caregivers should know how to perform CPR. Courses are run locally by Hato Hone | St John, New Zealand Red Cross | Ripeka Whero Aotearoa and other training organisations.

Children and infants who are not breathing normally, and are not responding, need CPR. If you're not sure, it's better to start CPR.

How to do CPR

Remember the letters DRS ABCD

D - Dangers?

Check for any dangers to yourself such as electricity or traffic.

R - Responsive?

Check responsiveness by calling loudly and shaking the child's arm.

S - Send for help

Dial 111 and confirm an ambulance is on its way. Use the appropriate emergency number in other countries. Do this even if you are alone, before starting CPR.

A - Airway

Open the airway by moving the head into a neutral position and lifting the chin. Do not tilt the head back too far.

B - Breathing

Look and feel for movement of the lower chest and stomach area. Listen and feel for air coming from the nose or mouth. If they are breathing, place the child in the recovery position.

C - Chest compressions

Do not worry about pushing too hard – good CPR requires you to push hard and fast.

If the child is not breathing, start CPR - 30 compressions to 2 breaths. Put the child on a firm surface. Place 2 fingers of one hand (for a baby) or the heel of one hand (for a child) in the centre of the chest just below the nipples. Push down hard and fast 30 times in about 15 seconds (push down one-third of chest depth).

Once you have completed 30 compressions (pushes) on the chest, breathe into the child’s mouth 2 times.

For a baby - seal your lips around the baby's mouth and nose.

For a child over 1 - pinch their nose closed and breathe into their mouth.

Continue with the cycle of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths until the ambulance arrives.

D - Defibrillator

Attach an automated external defibrillator (AED) as soon as available, turn on and follow prompts (the defibrillator will talk to you). Place the pads according to the diagram on the AED.

If paediatric (child) pads are not available, use standard pads. The pads should not touch each other – if they are too large, place one on the front in the centre of the chest and one on the back between the shoulder blades.

Return to chest compressions and keep going until the child responds or starts breathing normally, or professional help arrives and takes over.

Dr. Tony Smith, St John medical director demonstrates how to perform CPR and use an AED on children.

Graphic showing the basic life support steps


The basic life support diagram is reproduced with permission of the New Zealand Resuscitation Council.​ Basic life support diagram (PDF, 2.8MB).

This page last reviewed 31 October 2023.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it