Vagal Maneuvers in Children

The vagus nerve is a nerve in the body that can affect the heart rate. When it is stimulated, the heart rate can slow down. Certain maneuvers, called vagal maneuvers, are designed to stop the SVT by stimulating the vagus nerve.

For older children, vagal maneuvers include:

  • “Bearing down”: pretending as if you are having a bowel movement - blowing on your thumb
  • Doing a headstand, if you already know how to do one.
  • Putting very cold water/ice on your face

For babies or young children who can’t follow these directions, vagal maneuvers include:

  • Place an ice pack over the eyes for 15-30 sec. A frozen bag of vegetables works really well.  Avoid placing anything around the infant’s nose.
  • Pressing the infant’s knees to the chest for 15-30 seconds