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The Art of Bedtime Routines

If your household is anything like our household, then your household thrives on repeating solid routines to make things run smoothly.  In fact, all the research suggests that bedtime routines work best if you reserve the hour before bedtime for quiet play. It lowers your child’s activity level and prepare his nervous system for relaxation. Roughhousing, running, playing tickling games, and even watching action-packed TV shows or videos make peaceful transition to sleep especially difficult. Here are just a few of our “musts” when it comes to bedtime:

    • Set a specific time and stick to it. Your child’s body clock will adjust much more quickly to the routine if the routine follows a natural and consistent pattern.
    • Give a warning. Just before bedtime, give your child advance notice that the day is winding down. Your child may be too young to judge time yet, so saying something like “five more minutes” is not likely to be understood. Instead teach your child by association. Begin the first part of your routine — running the bath water, putting the toys away, or however your particular routine begins to signal the start of the wind down. Some parents signal impending bedtime with the ringing of a kitchen timer for five minutes; the child learns that the sound means bedtime. This allows an impersonal third party to announce bedtime and reduces the desire to complain, since even a toddler knows that you can’t argue with a machine.
    • Offer a snack. A light snack that includes both protein and carbohydrates — for example, a small piece of cheese and one half slice of whole-wheat bread — will induce sleep and help her stay asleep through the night. The carbohydrates make her sleepy, and the protein will help keep her blood sugar level on an even keel until breakfast. Be sure to brush her teeth after she eats.
    • Give your child a warm bath. By raising your baby’s body temperature slightly, you’ll make him more prone to sleepiness. Also, playing with his bath toys allows him to relax.
    • Get dressed for bed. Choose comfortable, non-binding pajamas, that are neither too warm nor too light.
    • Read a favorite story to your child. This is a particularly comforting routine for your toddler, particularly if it’s a favorite story that’s associated with bedtime, such as “Goodnight Moon.”
    • Make sure your child has a friend to sleep with. A favorite doll or teddy bear provides comfort. Our girls LOVE sleeping with stuffed animals so they are allowed to choose 5 to sleep with each night. That is something you could adjust for what fits with your child’s age and your comfort level.
    • Limit or eliminate bottles. If your child needs a bottle to fall asleep, make sure it contains only water. Milk, formula, or juice can pool around her teeth causing cavities, even in infants.
    • Keep last “goodnights” brief. Say “goodnight” when it’s time for you to leave the room and try not to come back if your child calls for you. This sounds harsh, but if you keep coming into the room you will have taught your child that “If I call to Mommy, she’ll come back.” Kids learn how to “condition” parents very quickly! Any hesitations on our part may be picked up by your child as an indication that maybe you really aren’t serious about this bedtime business and if she yells loudly enough you’ll come back and play some more.

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Finding Out Our Child Wasn’t “Normal”

I was just getting home from a work trip and my husband says to me…

“Now don’t get too alarmed…I am sure it isn’t anything BUT…our daughter seems to be experiencing some sort of strange head jerks that she can’t control.”

Of course I flipped out and then quickly witnessed it for myself. It appeared to be a seizure to the untrained eye and with that, we rushed her to the hospital. They hooked her up to every machine, put an IV in her tiny little vein and the process began. She was just 8 months old and as new parents, we were not ready for this…like AT ALL.

With tears lumped in my throat, I held back my sobs and prayed our little baby girl was going to be ok. My mother’s intuition told me different so suppressing that feeling was mandatory at the time just to get by.

I will NEVER forget that feeling of helplessness and fear. I remember where we were standing, what she was wearing, words that were spoken, etc…It is hard to believe it was 5 years ago.

What we found out from the tests,  PET Scan, PH tests, pokes and prods is that Annora had something called Sandifer Syndrome…AKA…a very severe case of GERD. This was a GREAT outcome compared to what they had been screening her for and we were relieved. With some medication, her symptoms would subside and she would be just fine. Through this screening and testing process though, we found out some other interesting news about Annora. She not only suffered from Sandifer Syndrome, but she had something called “hypotonia.” Hypotonia is a technical term for low muscle tone. Hypotonia was something she would not grow out of, it was something she would have for life. Our daughter was “different” from the “normal” child…OUCH! Wrapping your mind around that is tricky and takes time to digest.

That news stung because we knew she had a long road ahead of her and we were NOT prepared to best help her with the tools we currently had. We needed assistance, help and support. We turned to our developmental pediatrician who recommended Help Me Grow http://www.helpmegrow.ohio.gov/aboutus/Finding%20Help%20Me%20Grow/LucasCounty.aspx.

After some research into it, my husband and I decided to investigate further and found that the gobs of support they offer was just what we needed to help Annora be successful. The fear and stress of feeling alone went away immediately and we were able to process what she needed most with the help and support they offered (such as play groups, OT/PT one-on-one assistance, financial help, etc.).

Getting the help we needed for our child was stressful and hard because we didn’t have the necessary tools. I remember the feeling all too well when we found out the news our child wasn’t “normal” even though in a very slight way compared to what other children suffer from. It hurts, stings, and produces a helpless feeling. Knowing the resources available can cure those feelings and get your child on the road to success quickly.

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Swimming Lessons for Kids in Summer

I find myself watching our little ones at swim class, week after week, and it looks like they’re doing the same thing without really learning anything. I gets a tad frustrated and makes me start to rethink this whole swimming lessons thing, since they’re not making progress…and it’s expensive. Let’s set the record straight: I believe they’re learning the building blocks of swimming and increasing their strength, skill and stamina, little by little.

If you have kids, you know they tend to do the same things over and over again — especially when learning. First it’s drawing a straight line repeatedly; then a curved line; and then — magically — they’re writing definite letters. But actually, there’s nothing magical about it. They worked hard at mastering the little skills that all need to melt into place to write letters; things like holding a pencil and focusing on the task at hand. The exact same concept is seen when a kid is learning how to swim (or any other skill)!

I mean, I wouldn’t expect my kids to be writing full sentences on the second or third week of preschool, right? It takes a lot of work to master a new skill, whether it is writing, swimming or tying a shoelace.

With all of that said…I am intrigued with ISR swimming lessons I keep hearing about.

 ISR…What is it?

ISR stands for Infant Swimming Resource and is a new technique for teaching kids to swim. What is so important about you ask? Welp…you basically throw your infant/toddler/child into the water (sometimes fully clothed) with a one-on-one instructor nearby and they teach your child the fundamentals of swimming to survive a fall into a pool or a drift into the ocean far from Mommy and Daddy. This technique has got my attention and should get the attention of others if you have a pool in your backyard or go to the pool or ocean often.

What Your Child Will Learn In ISR Lessons

ISR’s unique results are achieved through fully customized, safe and effective, one-on-one lessons with only your child and the Instructor in the water. What your child will learn, and the way he or she will learn it, is what makes ISR so different from traditional swimming lessons. Always putting safety first, ISR emphasizes competence, which leads to confidence, and provides the foundation for a lifetime of enjoyment in and around the water.

What your child will learn depends on his or her age and developmental readiness, but in all cases, at minimum, your child will learn to roll onto his or her back to float, rest, and breathe, and to maintain this position until help arrives.

Children 6-12 Months Old

Generally speaking, children ages 6 months to 1 year learn the ISR Self-Rescue® skill of rolling onto their backs to float, rest and breathe. They learn to maintain this position until help arrives.

 

Children 1-6 Years Old

Older, more mobile children will learn the full ISR Self-Rescue® sequence of swimming until they need air, rotating onto the back to float, then rolling back over to continue swimming. ISR students are taught to repeat this sequence until they reach the safety of the steps, side of the pool, or the shoreline.

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Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts to Keep Your Unborn Child Safe

There is so much information out there that about pregnancy and keeping your unborn child safe during the crucial development in the womb. In fact, there is so much information that it can get a bit overwhelming. While out to a restaurant with girlfriends the other day, I expressed that I was really wanting a cup of tea but that I wasn’t supposed to drink tea while pregnant. One of my friends stated that her doctor never said anything about tea and she drank it all the time. This got me thinking….why are we all getting different information and is there a place where you can go to get ONE LIST of do’s and don’ts? The answer is….NOPE! Oh believe me, there are lists and lists, but none that compile everything into one document. By no means am I a doctor nor do I specialize in prenatal care, but I am a pregnant momma who is seeking the answers for her own benefit to share with all of you and I think that the research I have done is sufficient for any pregnant woman out there.

1. Do Take a Multivitamin

I truly believe that eating a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals…which is the best way to provide your body with all of the healthy nutrients it needs to support a growing baby. A healthy diet alone, however, may NOT be enough for pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of certain nutrients that expectant mothers require at higher doses, such as folic acid, calcium, and iron. These vitamins assist with proper development of the fetus and help to prevent birth defects. Your doctor can help you find a multivitamin or a series of vitamins that are best for you. It will usually include DHA and/or EPA, which are omega-3 fats that are important for your baby’s proper brain development.

2. Don’t Smoke

Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a lower birth weight and are at a greater risk for learning disabilities than children born to non-smoking mothers. Additionally, children born to women who smoke are more likely to try smoking at an earlier age and become regular smokers earlier, due to physiologic nicotine addiction.

3. Do Get Lots of Sleep

Although getting lots of sleep is tricky, changing hormone levels, anticipation, and anxiety can make sleep elusive during your nine months of pregnancy. Pregnancy is demanding, especially in the final trimester, and you will need your sleep. Take a quick snooze if you feel tired and schedule naps whenever you can. Set bedtimes and stick to them. Aim for seven to nine hours of shuteye each night. Fatigue is a sign that your body needs more rest, so give yourself all the Zzz’s you can.

4. Don’t Drink Alcohol

Alcohol may greatly impact your baby’s development. Women who drink alcohol while pregnant could deliver a baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Symptoms of FAS include low birth weight, learning disabilities, behavior problems, and lagging patterns in terms of growth and development milestones. If you need help to quit drinking while you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the healthier your baby is likely to be. 

5. Do Work Out

Gone are the days of pregnant women avoiding lifting a finger during their pregnancies. We now know that exercise is good for mama and baby! In fact, regular exercise may help you combat many of the issues that arise during pregnancy, including insomnia, muscle pain, excessive weight gain, and mood problems.

If you were a regular exerciser before you became pregnant, keep it up. Talk with your doctor about any adjustments you should make to your routine, especially as you move into your second and third trimesters. If you did not exercise regularly before you found out you were expecting, ask your doctor about incorporating a fitness routine into your day. They can guide you into a program that is safe and comfortable for you and your growing baby.

6. Don’t Eat Raw Meat

Raw and undercooked meat and eggs carry the risk of food-borne illness, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. Food poisoning is also a possibility. These conditions can cause serious, life-threatening illnesses that could lead to severe birth defects and even miscarriage. Make sure all eggs and meat that you eat while pregnant are well-cooked.

7. Do Eat Seafood

This topic was one in our household as my hubby wasn’t so sure I should be eating any seafood for these 9 months. I did the research and found that seafood is loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and iron, which are important for both mom and baby. Unfortunately, undercooked or raw seafood can also cause some problems. Seafood may carry harmful bacteria and viruses, which are eliminated when thoroughly cooked. Also, pregnant women should avoid raw fish and fish that may contain high levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel. Eat a variety of seafood so you don’t have a concentration of minerals from one type of fish, and eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. 

8. Don’t Eat Deli Meat

Deli meats, including hot dogs, sausages, smoked salmon, and other cured meats, can cause food-borne illness, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmoisis. Thoroughly cooking these processed proteins well reduces your risk. It’s also important to eat pasteurized (not raw) milk and cheese, and always wash produce to help eliminate harmful bacteria.

9. Do Have Sex

Sex during pregnancy is fine, as long as you don’t have a complicating factor such as placenta previa or another type of high-risk pregnancy. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about the safety of intercourse during your pregnancy.

10. Don’t Eat Unpasteurized Milk Products

Calcium is very important for growing babies, but us moms have to be careful how we get our calcium from dairy. Raw milk is not recommended for expecting mothers. Raw milk is unpasteurized. That means it has not been heated to kill bacteria that could make you ill. Specifically, raw milk may contain Listeria. This bacterial illness can lead to illness, miscarriage, or even life-threatening consequences.

11. Do Practice Yoga

You should avoid Bikram or hot yoga, but other yoga modalities are fine when you’re expecting. Seek out prenatal or gentle yoga classes that are designed for mothers-to-be. Instructors in these classes will know which poses are best and which you should avoid. If you were not doing yoga before you became pregnant, talk with your doctor before signing up for a class. While it’s possible you can start, it’s best to go over the risks and concerns with your doctor.

12. Don’t Sit in a Hot Tub or Sauna

Though relaxing, the high-heat environment of hot tubs, jacuzzis, and saunas may be too dangerous for us expecting mommas. In fact, research suggests that using one of these during your first trimester may double your risk of miscarriage.

13. Do Get a Flu Shot

Pregnant women can and should get a flu vaccine as long as you don’t have a contraindication as noted by the manufacturer. If you were to contract influenza during your pregnancy, the risk of severe side effects is greater than in women of the same age who are not pregnant. The vaccine will protect you as well as your developing fetus. 

14. Don’t Drink a Lot of Caffeine

Caffeine can travel through the placenta and increase your baby’s heart rate. Current research suggests that women can safely consume a cup or two of coffee each day, but forego downing a triple shot latte while you’ve got a bun in the oven.

15. Do Gain Weight Smartly

The “eat for two” advice to expecting mothers isn’t a license to eat whatever you’d like. Instead, women need to be strategic about what they eat and how much. Gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy may do more harm to your baby than good. During your first trimester, you only need about 100 extra calories a day to support your growing fetus. By your third trimester, that additional calorie number is closer to 300 per day.

16. Don’t Clean the Cat’s Litter Box

Pet your furry friend all you like, though wash your hands afterwards — but don’t clean a cat’s litter box. Feline waste is filled with millions of parasites. One in particular, Toxoplasma gondii, is particularly dangerous to expecting mothers. If you are infected, you may never know it until you begin having complications with your pregnancy. A miscarriage or stillbirth is possible. Babies who are infected with this parasite may face serious health problems, including seizures and mental disabilities.

17. Do Visit Your Dentist

Trips to the dentist’s office were avoided for decades for fear that an oral cleaning might cause bacteria to spread and lead to an infection. Now we know that’s just not the case. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynocoilogists recommends that expectant mothers have a routine oral health assessment while pregnant, along with regular dental cleanings.

So there you have it! This, I feel, is a SOLID list of do’s and don’ts. Yes there are some other things out there to possibly do and/or avoid, but this list sums it all up!

Have a suggestion, feel free to leave a comment below!

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Water Safety

Summer is coming and so is bathing suit season! If you are anything like my family, you can’t wait to hit the beaches or swimming pools this summer. But…being aware of your surroundings is key to keeping everyone safe.

Growing up, I never was big into swimming. In fact, I don’t even know how to swim…that well. When I enter a swimming pool, the thought of water approaching my shoulders and chin gives me the chills. Once I had kids, I was determined to make sure they were placed into swimming lessons and excelled at something I never mastered. Here are some facts and tips around water safety that I think are important to know as a parent of young kids.

The Hard Facts

Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 – 4 years old. Children less than a year old are more likely to drown at home in the bathroom or a bucket.

Top Tips

  1. Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted. Keep young children within arm’s reach of an adult.
  2. Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use. Store them upside down so they don’t collect water.
  3. Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  4. Install fences around home pools. A pool fence should surround all sides of the pool and be at least four feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates.
  5. Know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a life.

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How “Help Me Grow” Changed Our Lives

When our daughter (Annora) was just 13 months old, I was out of town on a work blitz and my husband was holding down the fort with her. When I returned, he explained to me that she had been doing some strange head thrusts and he wasn’t quite sure what it was. I quickly grabbed our baby girl to embrace her. As I was holding her, sure enough she demonstrated the head thrusts my husband had just described. My heart sank! I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was going on and I did what any momma would do, I frantically called the pediatrician’s office. They directed us to go to the hospital where Annora was admitted for further testing. She was poked, proded, tested, retested, etc. and the tests came inconclusive. We were referred to a developmental pediatricianwho got to the bottom of our daughter’s ailments. She quickly realized that Annora suffered from hypotonia (low muscle tone) and that her iron levels were low as well. She referred us to a GI doctor for peds and also gave us the information for an organization called Help Me Grow.

I reached out to everyone we were referred to right away and contacted Help Me Grow (HMG). I was amazed that HMG came out to our house to initially meet with us and get a feel for what Annora was struggling with. They then set up a day for us to get her tested at their facility. Everything went very quickly and before I knew it, they had an action plan in place for Annora, dates where specialists would come out to our house and meet/work with Annora were set, play groups she could and would be a part of were given to us to take advantage of, allocated money to help with services was provided, and a new friendship with our family emerged.

Amazement at the amount of care we received is a good way to describe it. The ease of having someone else take the reigns and lead our daughter (until she was 3) down a path to success was more than helpful and appreciated. She not only hit milestones that we were worried would take years for her to hit, but she was given the best care we could possibly have provided her through the use of HMG. I feel the need to say this…If you have a child who is suffering in ANY way be it socially, emotionally, physically, developmentally, etc., getting help immediately for him/her is the first step. Ask your pediatrician about HMG and if it is a good fit for your child and your family. It helped our family TREMENDOUSLY with the right care for the need our family had with our daughter.

http://www.helpmegrow.ohio.gov/en/aboutus/What-is-Help-Me-Grow

 

Infant CPR…Do you know what to do?

I know as a mommy of two little ones, I have had my heart stop a few times over my child choking on a piece of food. It is scary and it causes me to go into panic mode, slapping my child silly on the back until they are okay. It dawned on me that maybe I should learn the proper technique to dislodge a food particle or even if one of my kids stops breathing for whatever reason. What a thought right!?!

So I did some research and found some excellent information that would be good to print off and have somewhere handy in the house. This is directly from the website but sometimes it is good to have a go-to location where information is stored. More information on CPR in different age groups can be found at the following link: http://www.babycenter.com/0_infant-first-aid-for-choking-and-cpr-an-illustrated-guide_9298.bc

The following instructions are for babies younger than 12 months old.

 

Choking

Step 1: Assess the situation quickly.

If a baby is suddenly unable to cry or cough, something is probably blocking her airway, and you’ll need to help her get it out. She may make odd noises or no sound at all while opening her mouth. Her skin may turn bright red or blue.

If she’s coughing or gagging, it means her airway is only partially blocked. If that’s the case, let her continue to cough. Coughing is the most effective way to dislodge a blockage.

If the baby isn’t able to cough up the object, ask someone to call 911 or the local emergency number while you begin back blows and chest thrusts.

If you’re alone with the baby, give two minutes of care, then call 911.

On the other hand, if you suspect that the baby’s airway is closed because her throat has swollen shut, call 911 immediately. She may be having an allergic reaction – to food or to an insect bite, for example – or she may have an illness, such as croup.

Also call 911 right away if the baby is at high risk for heart problems.

Step 2: Try to dislodge the object with back blows and chest thrusts.

First do back blows

If a baby is conscious but can’t cough, cry, or breathe and you believe something is trapped in his airway, carefully position him faceup on one forearm, cradling the back of his head with that hand.

Place the other hand and forearm on his front. He is now sandwiched between your forearms.

Use your thumb and fingers to hold his jaw and turn him over so that he’s facedown along the other forearm. Lower your arm onto your thigh so that the baby’s head is lower than his chest.

Using the heel of your hand, deliver five firm and distinct back blows between the baby’s shoulder blades to try to dislodge the object. Maintain support of his head and neck by firmly holding his jaw between your thumb and forefinger.

Next, place your free hand (the one that had been delivering the back blows) on the back of the baby’s head with your arm along his spine. Carefully turn him over while keeping your other hand and forearm on his front.

Then do chest thrusts

Use your thumb and fingers to hold his jaw while sandwiching him between your forearms to support his head and neck. Lower your arm that is supporting his back onto your opposite thigh, still keeping the baby’s head lower than the rest of his body.

Place the pads of two or three fingers in the center of the baby’s chest, just below an imaginary line running between his nipples. To do a chest thrust, push straight down on the chest about 1 1/2 inches. Then allow the chest to come back to its normal position.

Do five chest thrusts. Keep your fingers in contact with the baby’s breastbone. The chest thrusts should be smooth, not jerky.

Repeat back blows and chest thrusts

Continue alternating five back blows and five chest thrusts until the object is forced out or the baby starts to cough forcefully, cry, or breathe on his own. If he’s coughing, let him try to cough up the object.

If the baby becomes unconscious

If a baby who is choking on something becomes unconscious, you’ll need to do what’s called modified CPR. Here’s how to do modified CPR on a baby:

Open his mouth and look for an object. If you can see an object, remove it with your little finger.

Give him two rescue breaths. If the air doesn’t go in (you don’t see his chest rise), tilt his head and try two rescue breaths again.

If his chest still doesn’t rise, do 30 chest compressions.

Look in his mouth and remove the object if you see it. Give him two more rescue breaths.

Repeat the chest compressions and so on, until help arrives.

 

How to perform CPR

What is CPR?

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This is the lifesaving measure you can take to save a baby who shows no signs of life (consciousness or effective breathing).

CPR uses chest compressions and “rescue” breaths to make oxygen-rich blood circulate through the brain and other vital organs until emergency medical personnel arrive. Keeping oxygenated blood circulating helps prevent brain damage – which can occur within a few minutes – and death.

CPR isn’t hard to do. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Check the baby’s condition.

Is the baby conscious? Flick her foot or gently tap on her shoulder and call out. If she doesn’t respond, have someone call 911 or the local emergency number. (If you’re alone with the baby, give two minutes of care as described below, then call 911 yourself.)

Swiftly but gently place the baby on her back on a firm, flat surface.

Make sure she isn’t bleeding severely. If she is, take measures to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the area. Don’t administer CPR until the bleeding is under control.

Step 2: Open the baby’s airway.

Tilt the baby’s head back with one hand and lift his chin slightly with the other. (You don’t have to tilt a baby’s head back very far to open the airway.)

Check for signs of breathing for no more than ten seconds.

To check for breathing in a baby, put your head down next to his mouth, looking toward his feet. Look to see whether his chest is rising, and listen for breathing sounds. If he’s breathing, you should be able to feel his breath on your cheek.

Step 3: Give two gentle “rescue” breaths.

If the baby isn’t breathing, give her two little breaths, each lasting just one second. Cover the baby’s nose and mouth with your mouth and gently exhale into her lungs only until you see her chest rise, pausing between rescue breaths to let the air flow back out.

Remember that a baby’s lungs are much smaller than yours, so it takes much less than a full breath to fill them. Breathing too hard or too fast can force air into the baby’s stomach.

If her chest doesn’t rise, her airway is blocked. Give her first aid for choking, described above.

Step 4: Do 30 chest compressions.

With the baby still lying on his back, place the pads of two or three fingers in the center of his chest, just below an imaginary line running between his nipples.

With the pads of your fingers on that spot, compress the chest about 1 1/2 inches. Push straight down. Compressions should be smooth, not jerky.

Do 30 chest compressions at the rate of 100 per minute. Count out loud: “One and two and three and…”, pushing down as you say the number and coming up as you say “and.” (The song Staying Alive is the right rate!)

When you complete 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths (step 3, above). (Each cycle of chest compressions and rescue breaths should take about 24 seconds.)

Step 5: Repeat compressions and breaths.

Repeat the sequence of 30 compressions and two breaths. If you’re alone with the baby, call 911 or the local emergency number after two minutes of care.

Continue the sequence of compressions and breaths until help arrives, you find an obvious sign of life, an AED (automated external defibrillator) is ready to use, the scene becomes unsafe, or you are too exhausted to continue.

Even if the baby seems fine by the time help arrives, a doctor will need to check her to make sure that her airway is completely clear and she hasn’t sustained any internal injuries.