Experts recommend staying up on CPR skills

No parent wants to be in a position to use it, but child-safety experts agree that learning infant and child CPR is a must for every mother and father.

"It's one skill that just doesn't come naturally to caregivers. It's a learned technique," says Lanny Dowell, Greater Baltimore Medical Center's parent education and doula coordinator.


Courses are offered by many local hospitals and through the American Red Cross. First aid for choking is also taught in CPR classes. And some are combined with training on using defibrillators or with adult CPR.

While parents can watch a video for instruction, it's helpful to practice on a mannequin, experts say.

"Most people learn by doing," says Sarah Sherman, training center coordinator for the American Heart Association at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia.

Instructors are also able to correct positioning and make sure parents are using the right amount of pressure, she says.

Some couples even arrange for CPR to be taught at baby showers, says Dowell.

Parents tell Dowell that after attending classes, "they felt so much more relaxed just having that skill," she says, and some parents have later told her about instances where they had to use the first aid technique for choking on a baby or older child.

"It's a natural response to slap the child on the back," says Dowell. "But because their windpipes get smaller as they go down, that can make the situation worse."

Experts recommend that you brush up on your lifesaving skills annually or at least every two years. Health officials change the guidelines every five years. For example, rescue breathing is no longer required to perform CPR successfully.

And because most parents don't use CPR or choking first aid often, it's helpful to review periodically.

"You begin to forget what you've learned," says Jeff Simpson, a CPR trainer for the American Red Cross. "I tell parents it's important. They may have to save someone's life in their family one day."

Here is sampling of upcoming training sessions

GBMC, Towson

Infant CPR: The class is offered Oct. 10 and 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. The class also includes first aid for choking victims. $35 per person, $65 per couple. Infant and Child CPR is offered Oct. 4 from 9 a.m. to noon. The class also includes first aid for choking victims and household safety. $45 per person, $80 couple.

Howard County General Hospital, Columbia


Adult, Child and Infant CPR: The class also includes training on how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Oct. 8 and 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. $55.

Anne Arundel Medical Center, Annapolis

Heartsaver AED: The class includes CPR, AED use and choking first aid. Oct. 9 and 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. $75.

University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore

Infant Care With CPR and Safety: The first half of the class covers basic infant care like bathing and diapering. The second half covers infant and child CPR and choking-rescue methods. The safety and CPR portion of the class may be scheduled independently from the infant care portion. Oct. 12 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. $25-$40.

The Red Cross, Central Maryland Chapter Office

Adult and Pediatric First Aid/ CPR: The class covers how to respond to a variety of medical emergencies including burns, cuts, sudden illnesses, head, neck, back injuries, and how to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies for infants, children and adults. Sept. 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. $110.