Normal Heart, Breathing and Blood Pressure Rates for Children

This page gives tables with the normal rates of heart, breathing and blood pressure for babies, toddlers and older children.

When the heart or breathing (respiratory) rate is slower or faster than normal, it is often a sign that all is not well. Usually, there will be other signs as well - to read more about signs of illness in babies and toddlers, click here.

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Heart Rate by age

The heart rate (pulse) is elevated when children are unwell. It might just be because they have a fever but it may be something more serious - read more. If the heart rate is slower than normal, particularly in babies, that also can be a sign that not all is well.

In babies the easiest place to feel the pulse is on the upper arm above the elbow joint - feel under the biceps muscle. In older children, you can feel the pulse at the wrist.

Age (years)
Heart Rate (beats per minute)
< 1
110 - 160
1 - 2
100 - 150
2 - 5
95 - 140
5 - 12
80 - 120
> 12
60 - 100

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Respiratory Rate by age at rest

A high respiratory (breathing) rate is usually a sign of breathing difficulty but in children is also seen with heart conditions (like heart failure). Usually when the rate is high due to breathing difficulties, you will also see signs of increased effort or work of breathing - click here to read more.

Age (years)
Breathing Rate (breaths per minute)
< 1 
30 - 40
1 - 2
25 - 35
2 - 5
25 - 30
5 - 12
20 - 25
> 12
15 - 20

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Systolic Blood Pressure by age

Blood pressure is expressed as the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure, eg. 90/60. This table gives the values for systolic pressure (the higher one).

Low blood pressure is a sign of shock. High blood pressure in infants, toddlers and older children is usually the result of disease, such as kidney problems.

Age (years)
Systolic Blood Pressure (mm Hg)
< 1
70 - 90
1 - 2
80 - 95
2 - 5
80 - 100
5 - 12
90 - 110
>12
100 - 120

Please Note: The pulse, breathing and blood pressure rates given on this page are a guide to what is normal in children. Always see your doctor or health care provider if you are worried about your child, even if their pulse and respiratory rates are normal.

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References

  • Advanced Paediatric Life Support. ALSG. Blackwell Publishing Group 2005. ISBN 0-7279-1847-8
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To go to the top of the Heart Breathing and Blood Pressure page, click here

To go to the Serious Illness Signs page, click here

To go to the Breathing Difficulties page, click here

To return to the Home page, click here


Last reviewed 2 June 2011

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Dr Maud MD

Dr Maud MD (MBChB, FRACP, FRCPCH), a specialist pediatrician, provides health information and medical advice for parents of babies and toddlers. Read more about Dr Maud.



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