Your child has stopped breathing - what would you do? PLEASE learn this catchy song from St John Ambulance.

A few weeks ago on a cold windy day I was working at home with only the radio on quietly in the background for company. I heard screaming, listening for a few seconds I realised it was my neighbour screaming as if she was seriously hurt.

I dashed out of the house in my slippers, ran out to the road to see with horror she was running towards me holding her limp toddler. She screamed:" He's not breathing!"

She almost threw him at me and ran to call an ambulance. She said afterwards she really didn't know what to do. She'd tried calling the ambulance while carrying him but had dropped the phone in her panic.

I wasn't entirely sure what to do either. I shouted after her asking if he had maybe swallowed something? He's an adorable boy, 18 months and at that stage where they are into everything. With older siblings I wondered about Lego, or some tiny doll's shoe.

All of this went through my mind in a flash and without a definitive answer from his understandably hysterical mum I decided to try sharp strikes between his shoulder blades which I recalled from writing about a first aid app last year.

Three blows and I held him in front of me at arms length. Nope Nothing. I actually thought this gorgeous child with his blonde curls and beautiful eyelashes was going to die in my arms.

I desperately tried to recall how to perform CPR on a toddler. I was terrified I was going to break his ribs, puncture a lung or worse, fail to save him because of my ignorance.

I decided to start with breaths, figuring maybe I could breathe for him, keep his lungs moving until the ambulance got there. As I started to move towards the grass to lie him down I gave him couple more thumps between the shoulder blades and rubbed him briskly all the time urging him to come back to us.

As I crouched ready to lie him down, I saw his eyes flicker and saw his chest move. I grabbed him up  again, shouting to his mum and we raced inside. I laid him in the recovery position (thank God for that blog post I wrote which had given me at least a slight clue) and held his tiny body in one hand, my fingers on his back so I could feel him breathing, thumb on his front so I could feel his heart beating.

The paramedics? It took almost an hour. ALMOST AN HOUR for a toddler who had stopped breathing. Not their fault of course but if you were a time waster that day ( or any day) calling an ambulance for a sore throat, drunken accident or to fast track to A &E (all common reasons) shame on you.

A short stay in hospital did not reveal any cause for the episode. The little man had been playing stacking cups happily with mum, and when her mobile rang she picked him up to sit with her on the sofa with his drink. She said he literally just went floppy and his eyes rolled up into his head and he stopped breathing.

The hospital think it may have been a fit caused by a mild virus. I actually think my efforts most likely had nothing to do with him breathing again - it could just as likely have been the cold wind, movement or the natural end of the strange fit.

I am ashamed to admit I turned down the opportunity to learn some baby and toddler first aid from St John Ambulance earlier this year. It would have meant a small financial outlay to get into London and, I'll be totally honest, learning about First Aid sounded dull.

Let me tell you - there's nothing dull about being faced with a situation where someone's life is actually in your hands.

What about last year's blog post? The one which at least had given me some basic, half remembered first aid knowledge. Yes I downloaded and researched the Red Cross app I was promoting but deleted it to make more room for photos. Stupid as it had a fantastic emergency section which guides you step by step through just such an incident as I experienced.

(St John Ambulance have apps too - including a useful one especially for cyclists!)

But what if you don't have your phone, or like my neighbour are alone when disaster strikes and cannot cope with losing one hand to use it?

 St John Ambulance has launched Nursery Rhymes Inc. a campaign that teaches parents and the wider public how to help a baby who’s stopped breathing.  It features a catchy song which you can learn to help you remember the steps of child CPR. (see video below)

New research shows that this is the first aid emergency parents are most worried about, yet only one in four know how to help. 

Nursery Rhymes Inc. teaches baby CPR in a short, clear and reassuring way to help parents remember what to do in an emergency.

The campaign features everyone’s favourite nursery rhyme characters who’ve come together to create a memorable rhyme to explain the technique. 

You might have seen the ad already on TV -Incy Wincy Spider, Humpty Dumpty, Jack & Jill, and the Cat & the Fiddle are struggling to write the rhyme – though they have more luck in the longer online version, which promises to make baby CPR truly unforgettable in just two minutes with a catchy song.

The characters of Nursery Rhymes Inc. explain the steps to saving a baby who’s unconscious and not breathing. These are:

1.    Call 999/112 for an ambulance If you’re on your own, you need to give one minute’s worth of CPR before you can call for help, taking your baby with you.
2.    5 puffs Put your lips around their mouth and nose and blow steadily for up to one second. Give five puffs in total.
3.    30 pumps Using two fingers in the centre of the chest, give 30 pumps at a rate of 100-120 per minute
4.    Repeat, but with 2 puffs and 30 pumps until help arrives

      To celebrate the campaign, St John Ambulance is putting on special baby first aid course for just £25 + VAT. To find your nearest course, or watch more first aid videos and advice, go to
       Learn from my lesson. I always thought there was no need for me to learn first aid because there was always bound to be someone else around who had. I didn't think I'd be brave enough to step up even if I had learned it, for fear of doing it wrong. 
      But on a cold windy day in a deserted cul-de-sac I learned that there isn't always someone else, and you don't always have a choice. It's better to be prepared.


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