Child vs. Adult CPR: Understanding the Differences

A crucial aspect of life-saving training is educating the participants on child vs. adult CPR and understanding the differences between them to increase the chances of survival of SCA victims of various ages.

Every year, around 436,000 people die of SCA in the USA. As we are on our way to making our lives safer and our environment a more secure place to live in, we must be more dedicated to understanding the importance of CPR education.

Understanding the specific demands of CPR-trained individuals for different age groups will help understand the critical role of timely and appropriate intervention. From infants to senior citizens, each life has immeasurable value.

In the following text, we will analyze the differences and how to effectively perform CPR for both adults and kids in Augusta.

Anatomy Variation

Before diving into the specifics of child vs. adult CPR and understanding the differences, it’s important to be aware of the fundamental anatomical distinctions between these two groups. Kids’ bodies are still in the phase of development, and these factors can impact the approach to CPR.

Let’s look at the physiological differences below:

Child Anatomy and Physiology

In babies, toddlers, and kids, the chest wall is more flexible compared to grown-ups. Because their ribs are much softer, the CPR technique should be adapted to that kind of anatomy, which means that the chest compressions must be gentler.

Also, children’s airways are smaller, and their tongue takes up more space in the mouth, leading to potential airway obstructions. You’ll have to position their head accordingly to open up the airway.

Adult Anatomy and Physiology

Conversely, adults have bigger and more rigid chest walls because they have fully developed bones and body structures. Their airways are more spacious, and the possibility of airway obstruction caused by the tongue is smaller compared to children.

CPR for Kids and Adults

When analyzing the guidelines of child vs. adult CPR and understanding the differences, you’ll realize that the same steps are included, more or less. The difference is in the technique. For example, chest compressions for a grown-up vs. a child or infant are at a different rate and depth.

The same applies to rescue breaths; they need to be performed slightly differently between adults and children.

CPR for Infants

Every year, around 3,400 infants die due to SIDS in the US. This type of syndrome occurs in babies less than 12 months old with no obvious cause. More research is needed to determine the importance of CPR in such cases, although there have been some success stories.

Since conditions like SIDS come unexpectedly, it’s good to always be on alert and ready to give CPR, especially if you’re a parent. These are the steps to follow:

      1. Place the baby on its back on a firm surface. Then, stand or kneel next to the infant.

      1. Perform 30 compressions. Position your thumbs on the baby’s chest and give 30 compressions at a depth of an inch and a half with a rate of 100 to 120 per minute.

      1. Try to open the baby’s airway to a neutral position and give 2 breaths. Each breath should be 1 second.

      1. Switch between giving compressions and rescue breaths until emergency medical services arrive.

    CPR for Children

    The steps for CPR for children involve:

        1. Place the child on its back on a firm surface and kneel beside it.

        1. Perform 30 compressions. Place your hands in the center of the kid’s chest, with your fingers intertwined. Perform 2-inch-deep compressions at a rate of 100- 120 per minute. (Mind that, for a smaller child, you should only use one hand.)

        1. Give 2 breaths. Open the child’s airway to a slightly past-neutral position and give rescue breaths.

        1. Repeat until EMS arrive.

      In both cases, the set of steps can be repeated until:

          • You notice a sign of life

          • When another bystander, preferably CPR-certified, is ready to take over

          • When the AED is ready to use

          • When the environment is unsafe

          • If you have performed 2 minutes of CPR and need to call 911.

        CPR for Adults

        When performing adult CPR, follow the next steps:

            • Call 911 first and begin with CPR right after.

            • Give 30 compressions using both hands on the center of the chest with a depth of a minimum of 2 inches and a 100-120 rate per minute.

            • Give 2 breaths by opening the airway to a past-neutral position.

            • Don’t stop until professional medical help arrives.

          As you can see, the steps are relatively the same, the main difference being in the positioning of the hands and the child’s or infant’s head.

          AEDs for Kids and Adults

          Using an AED is a crucial step in reviving kids and adults in cardiac arrest by delivering electric shocks to the heart. CPR, together with an AED, can increase the chances of survival and protect the victim from permanent damage to the vital organs.

          That being said, the strategic placement of AEDs is important in the process of life resurrection.

          There are also slight variations in using an AED for children and adults due to the differences in their body sizes and needs.

          Let’s see how to use an AED for both age groups when they show signs of unresponsiveness:

          AED for ChildrenAED for Adults
          Ensure the area is safeBegin with CPRStrip any clothingAttach pediatric pads – place one of the pads on the child’s chest and one on their back.Analyze the heart rhythmDeliver a shockResume CPRFollow AED promptsEnsure the area is safeBegin with CPRStrip any clothingAttach adult pads – place the pads on the victim’s chest. Apply one of the pads on the upper right chest and the lower left side of the chest.Analyze the heart rhythmDeliver a shockResume CPRFollow AED prompts

          Special Considerations

          Here are the major points on child vs. adult CPR. Understanding the differences can help you improve your life-saving skills:

          Child CPR Considerations

          Below are key points regarding child CPR:

              • Avoiding heavy compressions: Due to the flexibility of a kid’s chest, excessive force during compressions can cause internal injuries. A careful approach is a must in order to achieve effective compression depth without causing further harm.

              • Use of AED: If an AED is available, the pediatric pads from the machine should be used for children under 8 years old or below 55 pounds. If pediatric pads are unavailable, adult pads can be used as well, but only if they are properly placed.

            Adult CPR Considerations

            Below are key points regarding adult CPR:

                • Fractures: The rigidity of a grown-up person’s chest means that the risk of rib injuries during chest compressions is higher, and rescuers should be prepared for potential rib fractures. Keep in mind that minor injuries during CPR can happen, and the main goal is to save the victim’s life.

                  • AED usage: Standard adult AED pads are also appropriate for teenagers and older children who have reached puberty, so you can use them without a problem. As we said before, proper pad placement is crucial to ensure effective defibrillation.

                Benefits of Proper CPR for Kids

                Here are the benefits of child vs. adult CPR:

                    • Improved chance of survival: Performing proper CPR on children significantly increases their chances of survival. Immediate and effective CPR helps maintain blood flow to vital organs, increasing the likelihood of a successful resuscitation until medical professionals arrive.

                    • Preventing brain damage: CPR provides oxygen to the brain and other organs, preventing irreversible brain damage that can occur during cardiac arrest.

                      • Immediate response: Knowing how to properly perform CPR on kids and adults empowers bystanders and caregivers to take immediate action in emergency situations.

                      • Reduced complications: Administering CPR correctly reduces the risk of complications.

                      • Increased confidence: Learning and practicing pediatric CPR builds confidence in caregivers, teachers, babysitters, and anyone who spends time with infants and kids.


                    Understanding the differences between child vs. adult CPR is essential for every citizen in Augusta who may need to perform this life-saving technique in an emergency situation. The anatomical and physiological differences between these age groups require slightly different approaches in order to maximize the chances of survival.

                    By following the proper CPR guidelines for child vs. adult CPR techniques, rescuers can play a significant role in saving lives, making Augusta a safer place. Proper CPR training, continued education, regular practice, and keeping up to date with CPR techniques are vital aspects of helping victims in life-threatening situations.