Breath Holding Spells

Catherine - posted on 06/11/2010 ( 24 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 19 months now and about a month ago she holds her breathe and wont breathe. She has passed out twice where her eyes roll in the back of her eyes and becomes stiff. Her doctor has said it is common for toddlers her age. He also said it shouold only last for at most a min and she will come too and start breathing on her own. It happened when either she has hurt herself or is angry. If anyone has seen this it is very scary to see thier child blue and lifeless. I was wondering if anyone else has this problem with thier LO? What have you done to stop it? Any advice will be help.

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Tine - posted on 06/25/2010

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YES! My daughter, now 19months, did this first at 13months - it was terrifying, I thought she was dead in my arms! She went white,and limp... it was horrific!!!
I do have some suggestions for you,as we have managed to never have her faint again doing these things...
First, it is NOT a tantrum - it is NOTsomething they have conscious control over, they are NOT using it to manipulate you. It is a kind of 'storm' of emotion that they cannot control, and they just seem to get totally overwhelmed and shut down. We worked on looking at how we manage her emotions - I always catch her before it gets too intense, and empathise with her feelings even if she cant have what she wants.
Next, a simple trick - blow gently all over your child's face if she starts going into one of these spells, including into her open mouth. This one trick stopped her ever fainting again - it seems to bring her back to proper awareness, and she just cries normally!
Third, try homeopathics! I started her on them a bit over a month ago, and the difference is incredible! everyone comments on how much more relaxed and grounded she is, it has removed that edge of anxiety that was making her emotions so extreme at times. Try a well respected homeopath though, not just remedies over the counter. The remedy Camomilla has been wonderful for us.
I hope all this helps! The Dr was not much help, he said it was a tantrum and just to ignore it - if we had done that she would have passed out many many times, but using gentle techniques has made all the difference.
Best wishes and good luck, you're not alone - I know how terrible it is to see your child like that! :-) :-) Tine

Amanda - posted on 06/12/2010

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Hi there Catherine, my son doesn't do this but I use to do it as a child up to the age of 8 years whenever I would hurt myself. The best thing to do with your daughter is to talk to her as calmly as possible. Whenever I would pass out as a kid my mom would always talk to me very calmly since I could still hear her it would help me wake up sooner and give me something else to focus on. Eventually when I was older before I would pass out she would say to me to "breathe" because I would just get worked up I would forget. That seemed to help me grow out of it. Just stay calm and that will help her come out of it quickly. And don't forget she can still hear everything that you say at that time, I did.



I think this is actually more dramatic for the parent going through this then the child.

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Arundhati - posted on 11/07/2012

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My son did this for a long time when he was young .Easiest thing to do is to shock them

(a) Blow on their face OR (this did not work with mine though)

(b) Splash some cold water drops on her face with your fingers ,she should come out of it



Hope this helps .....

Lori - posted on 02/08/2012

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I am a childcare provider and have a 12 month old that recently started to do this. It is very scary. I have never had a child before that does this so it is all new to me. I am so glad there are others out there who offer advice and have dealt with the same thing.

Tina - posted on 08/21/2010

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WOW!? I am so glad that none of my kids went through this phase. My mom use to do it and my older brother use to do it. My grandma didn't know what to do for my mom when she did this. Just let it pass!?! My mom took my brother to the Dr. and he said to splash him with cold cold water and that ecentually he would stop!?!

Sally - posted on 06/28/2010

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I was a childcare worker who had a child who held there breath everyday, Monday to friday at daycare. he was 18 months old.
I was told to breathe into his face and he often took a breath and started breathing again. i learnt very quickly the art of redirection. He i thought the child was getting agitated I would lead to do an activity that they like or give him a car as he loved cars.It stopped a lot of the spells.. i know how scary they are I dealt with them a year. i was told get up to a minute start mouth to mouth

Uzma - posted on 06/25/2010

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this condition is same with my son,who is now same 19 months,but he is having this from 6 months.I consulted the doctor,he advised me to give him iron drops,i started him to give,the time he's taking the medicine means it was 3months duration, i saw this breath holding spell was zero.
The doctor said me,these kinds of children do not have deficiency,but the iron drops were experimented on them,and the result was positive. so i did the same,and inshaALLAH it will go after some time as she grows.
Hope you got the positive reply by using that.

Danielle - posted on 06/23/2010

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Hey! I am so glad you posted this. So far out of all my friend no one does this. My 19 mth old son does this. He has since birth. Usually I can blow into his face and make him breath but the last two time he just passed out. Right before Christmas he passed out and had a sezure (spelled wrong). The doctors say that it's just a phase but it's scary as hell. The last time was about a mth ago. I've gotten to the point that I just pick him up, rub his back and just talk to him. He comes too and is scared and then we just sit for awhile. Thanks for posting this and letting me feel like I'm not crazy!

Also my son was just diagnosed with asthma. The doctors think it "may" have something to do with it but can't really say!

Theran - posted on 06/23/2010

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my son also is 19 months and he also holds his breath especially when he is mad or really upset or he gets hurt.

Gina - posted on 06/23/2010

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My daughter is 33 months old and has had these "spells" since she was 5 months old. They always occur after an unexpected hurt of some sort. I have had bloodwork done, an EEG done and also have brought her to a pediatric neurologist. The neurologist has said she has VasoVagal Hypersensitivity. Her suggestion was to stay calm, lay her down flat on her back and then hold her feet up above her so the blood flows back to her trunk area. Also to keep documenting when it happens, for how long and what her response was. It has seemed to help her response time a little, but it does not prevent the episode in the first place. I had never heard of this before and no no one else that it has happened to, but Dr Sears has an article about it as well which describes it exactly. Supposedly they will eventually grow out of it. I have true empathy for you because I have seen it multiple times and it is the scariest thing to watch. I have been in the medical field for years and was still not prepared for this!
Hang in there!

Anne - posted on 06/21/2010

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My LO hasn't started this but i've been told that most toddlers do it, i remember my little sister doing it when we were younger. (She was 2 and me and my twin were 5-i'm 26 now) Michelle would stand infront of Gillian and i'd stand behind Gillian ready to catch her depending on which way she 'decided' to fall.

Mum had her to the doctors for it many a time, Dr Flechter said it was probably due to some change............. they finaly figured out it was because Me and Michelle had just started school so Gillian had gone from having me michelle and mum running around after her to just our mum. She soon grew out of it once mum took her to play groups x

I'm thinking Freddie will be the same as his Auntie Gilli as he already has so many of her mannerisims already!!

Denise - posted on 06/21/2010

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My daughter did that once when she was 11 months. This was the most awful moment of my life. I didn't know what to do and I shook her desperately (wrong thing to do!!!) and she didn't wake up. After a while, I threw water on her face and she finally woke up. The doctor said it was the breathe holding spell, there was nothing to do and that she would grow out of it. The most important thing to do is not to panic and never shake their heads! Some people do breathe on the toddlers mouth to help them restart on their own. Try to wake her with water and identify what makes her nervous to the point she can't control her feelings and she holds her breathe, so that you can avoid that. But, be careful! Sometimes, toddlers can do it up to 2 times a day (!!!) because they know they can manipulate the whole family through this behavior....

Laura - posted on 06/21/2010

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My daughter does the same and has been for months. I did it too when i was a toddler. What I find works best is to splash cold water on her face. This worked for me when i was younger and works for my child. It is just about the scariest thing ever when it happens. Just stay calm and think fast.

Kellie - posted on 06/19/2010

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my 18 mos old just started doing that too.but he hasnt passed out yet.I guess i did it as a child & my parents even took me to the ER once.but I dont have any solutions I'm wondering that myself

Robyn - posted on 06/19/2010

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My oldest daughter (12 years old) used to do this until she was about 8 and my husband used to do it until he was about 4. I was told by my doctor that is usually the age that children grow out of it, but my daughter did it for longer than usual. The entire spell would last for about 3 minutes (start of crying through coming to and calming down). She was never "out" for more than 1 minute, but was always terribly upset when she came out of it. My doctor explained that it is from presure on the vesal vega nerve (I am not sure I spelled it correctly) and some are more sensitive than others. Some form of a distraction did work for her sometime (breath in the face, tickle, or whatever else you want to try).

Adrienne - posted on 06/19/2010

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My son does this when he gets upset, but he doesn't take it to the point where he passes out. I blow in his face, the doctor told me that it forces babies to take a breath when you do that, something about it being a reflex.

Nicola - posted on 06/19/2010

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my toddler is now 19 months and she has been doing this since she turned a year, she doesnt pass out but goes blue in the face and I blow a quick hard breath in her face and she seems to breath again! my doctor also said it would pass but hasnt yet! Good luck I hope it doesnt happen too often and grow out of it, but my doctor reasurred me that the bodies natural defence is to take a breath when they pass out so hang in there x

Chezi - posted on 06/18/2010

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My brother-in-law used to do this and his parents used to blow in his face so it went up his nose. The shock made him breathe. All the other suggestions sound really good too. You just need to shock her. I hope this helps.

Renee - posted on 06/18/2010

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I did that as a child whenever I got upset. My mom never found a way to stop it, but I did outgrow it- eventually...

Brittany - posted on 06/17/2010

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My son does that, when he gets real mad or if he gets hurt bad enough, he hasn't passed out but his face turns blueish, he hasn't done it in a couple weeks but my fiances aunt said that her kids used to do it and her mom told her to splash a cup of cold cold water in their face and she said after doing it once they never did it again, i havent done this myself but she says it might seem mean but it works

Jen - posted on 06/13/2010

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i havent had it happend to me but i have heard of a celebrity daughter doing it n like you scared the life out of her but like your docter say they should grow out of it

Tanya - posted on 06/12/2010

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gosh that must be scary!! but it is normal, my husband and best friend did it as toddlers. Unfortunately you have to let them pass out, they will wake up, your body isn't going to let that kill you. they pass out and will star breathing again. they will have one horrible headache though. it should only occur as long as she can't remember how the last episode ended. My hubby did it several time as a toddler.

Amanda - posted on 06/11/2010

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I haven't had this happen and I can imagine how scary and aweful it must be for you.
I have a suggestion for you, I hope that it hels, it's pretty simple, and I feel a little foolish suggesting it.
Tickle her. No, really. As soon as she takes in a breath to hold it, tickle her. She(hopefully) will giggle, and let the breath out. It's a form of distraction from whatever is making her behave this way. Spontaeneous tickles at other times will prevent her from linking tickles to the breath holding behaviour.

I hope this helps, and I'm sorry if it seems silly, I wanted to help if I could.

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