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Using AEDs on Children and Infants: How to Save A Young Life

aed pad placement

Using an automated external defibrillator on an infant or child during a sudden cardiac arrest is a life-saving intervention. As AEDs are designed mainly for adults, some models have pediatric settings and specific infant or child pads. You must know how to use an AED correctly while adapting the process for younger patients. Study the guide to explore the steps for using an AED on a child or an infant and understand AED pad placement.

What is an automated external defibrillator?

Automated external defibrillators are lifesaving medical devices that check the heartbeat of a cardiac arrest victim. It delivers a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm. The chances of survival decrease by 10% for each minute without immediate CPR or external defibrillation. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes sudden cardiac death in young people.

Why must you learn to use an AED?

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. More than 350,000 individuals suffer from sudden cardiac arrest. The only way to regulate the heart rhythm in a healthy manner is by using an automated external defibrillator. You can request the assistance of trained medical experts to gain an understanding of the device. As the average response time is 8–12 minutes, this reduces the survival chances by 10%. Hence, it is crucial to have access to AED and know the right ways to use it.

Read More: How to Look for Good AED and CPR Classes Near Me

Can you use AED on an infant?

AED devices are manufactured with adults in mind. Rescuers must use this lifesaving device on infants and children with suspected sudden cardiac arrest if a manual defibrillator is not available. AEDs have pediatric settings and defibrillator pads. These are adjusted, ensuring safety for infants and young children weighing less than 55 pounds. Pediatric electrode pads must be used on children under eight years of age and on infants. You can use adult pads for children eight years of age and older. 

How do you recognize pediatric AED pads?

Pediatric electrode pads are smaller and feature a different color packaging than adult pads. The instructor and AED pad placement infant illustrations depict a small child or an infant. If your device needs a child or infant key, the key will have an illustration on it depicting the proper placement of the adult AED electrode pads for use.

What is the importance of AED?

Imagine you are enjoying a family gathering and you see your loved one collapsing. This creates panic, and you realize that you are witnessing a sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops to function, often requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation and an AED. It is a small device that plays a significant role in the lives of people experiencing cardiac arrest. More than 350,000 individuals suffer from cardiac arrest outside of hospitals. The survival rate is 10 percent, and AEDs help improve significantly.

Here is the role that AEDs’ play in handling sudden cardiac arrest:

  • AEDs’ are cost-efficient and safe. They help increase survival rates during sudden cardiac arrest.
  • It helps analyze a person’s heart rhythm while delivering a shock, whenever required.
  • First responders can use it, especially firefighters and police officers. This helps individuals who are experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

How is infant and child CPR different from that of adults?

Child and infant CPR is different from that of adults. These classes will teach you how to perform adult, child, and infant CPR and how to effectively use an automated external defibrillator. CPR is similar to adult CPR; however, rescuers must start CPR before calling 911. After two minutes of CPR with rescue breaths, call 911 right away. Use two hands, depending on the size of the patient. The depth of compressions must be one and a half inches. The ratio of compressions to rescue breaths must be 30:2. This is similar for children as well as for adults.

Although the bones of children are more flexible as compared to those of adults, you must take great care when performing CPR on an infant. As with older children, you want to start CPR on an infant before calling 911.

Read More: CPR AED course in Oakville

How to use an AED on a child or infant?

It is a crucial step to use an AED with children and infants. It needs a lower level of energy to defibrillate the heart. Here is a detailed instruction on how to use an AED on a child:

Secure an AED:

These devices are found in public areas, including airports, schools, shopping centers, and workplaces. You are familiar with these locations, which saves you time searching unnecessarily. Once you have located the AED, retrieve it quickly. Open the case and press the power button. The AED will provide visual instructions to help you operate the device successfully.

Prepare the child or infant:

Children are susceptible to changes. Make sure you prepare the child well before using the device. Here are a few easy steps to prepare the child:

  • Ensure safety: Before approaching the infant or child, make sure that the scene is safe. Look around for hazards such as fire, traffic, or other dangers.
  • Remove any clothing: Open any clothing that may cover the chest area to allow for proper anterior posterior placement of aed pads.
  • Dry the area on the chest. If the chest is sweaty or wet, use a cloth or towel to wipe it dry. This ensures that the AED pads adhere properly.

Get rid of medication patches:

If an infant or a child wears any medication patches, remove them carefully. This will help you avoid any interference with the electrical impulses of the AED.

Place the pads on the infant or the child:

If there is a child aged 1–8, you must place the pad on the upper right chest, above the breast. Place the second pad on the lower left chest. You can place it below the armpit.

If there is an infant who is under 1 year old, place one pad on the infant’s upper left chest. You must place the second pad on the back of the infant. Make sure that if the pads do not touch the front of the chest, then you must use the anterior-posterior placement.

Keep some distance from the child or infant:

When the AED pads are in place, you must stop performing CPR right away. Keep some distance and ensure that no one touches the child or the infant. Give detailed instructions to bystanders to stand clearly. Make sure that no one is in contact with the infant or the child. This will make it easier for the child to allow the AED to accurately analyze the heart rhythm

The AED will analyze the heart rhythm. Listen to the prompts and check if it says ‘check electrodes’. This will ensure that the pads are attached and make good contact with the skin. If an AED advises a shock, confirm that everyone is clear of the child or infant. Press the flashing shock button while delivering the shock.

Allow the AED to analyze the rhythm of the heart:

Follow the verbal instructions of the AED. If the AED reads ‘Check Electrodes’, ensure that the electrodes are not in contact with each other. Stand clear of the cardiac arrest victim while the AED searches for a shockable rhythm. If the AED reads,’shock’, then keep holding the flashing shock button and deliver shock when required.

Perform CPR for two minutes:

Resume CPR immediately after delivering the shock. For children, compress the chest at least 2 inches for infants. Perform compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute. The chest recoils completely between compressions. Give two rescue breaths every 30 compressions and tilt the head back. Now lift the chin to open the airway and cover the mouths of the infant and the child. Then blow gently while waiting for the chest to rise.

Repeat the cycle:

Continue CPR for two minutes and stop for the automated external defibrillator to analyze the rhythm again. If the AED advises another shock, ensure that everyone is clear and deliver the shock. This will help in continuing the AED prompts. 

If the infant shows signs of life, such as breathing, then you must stop CPR right away. Monitor them while being ready to resume CPR whenever needed. Keep the infant or child warm and comfortable. Stay beside them until emergency medical services arrive.

How common is sudden cardiac arrest in children and infants?

Cardiac arrest emergencies are uncommon in children. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, it affects anyone. Over 2000 adolescents and children are due annually in the United States. SCA is also responsible for 10–15% of sudden, unexpected infant deaths.

Pediatric cardiac arrest results from respiratory arrest. This leads to cardiovascular collapse, and for adults, primary cardiac dysrhythmia is the primary cause. To prevent deterioration, you must initiate deterioration and aggressive treatment. You can prevent sudden death within three to five minutes of cardiac arrest.

Are AEDs safe to use on children?

Yes, AEDs are safe to use on children, including those aged 8 years and younger. Providing adequate cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using an AED is the best way to treat a child or infant. Immediate CPR and AED are helpful in restarting the heart. To prevent a child’s condition from worsening, it is crucial to restore the oxygen in the blood around the body. This helps supply oxygen to the brain and the vital organs of the body. This limits the damage caused to the systems.


Defibrillation and chest compressions are helpful for children. AEDS analyzes the victim’s heart and prompts the rescuer to give an electric shock, if required. SCA is more common than usual and can affect anyone, including children and infants. Be prepared to use an AED by following the steps mentioned above. Administer it within three to five minutes of cardiac arrest to save a life. CPR and first aid certification help you acquire knowledge and training of AED pad placement.