Breath Holding Spells

Shannon - posted on 03/23/2010 ( 6 moms have responded )




My 7 month old daughter has stopped breathing twice. It only happens when she gets really upset, but it is getting to the point I am scared to put her down and let her cry, or let her put herself to sleep because she may stop breathing again! The doctor doesn't seem concerned about it because "It is normal in children under the age of 3." I have never heard of this before. Am I handling this the right way?


Sophie - posted on 03/23/2010




try not to worry my daughter has just started to do it at 16 months old. i dont understand why the doctors are so calm about it because it is such a scary experience. my doctor told me if blowing in the mouth dont work just try and calm her down. she will pass out (dont panic) BUT her body will relax and she will start breathing on her own again. if you get any more information on it please write me a messgae as i still panic everytime she does it


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Rh123 - posted on 04/29/2015




My 15 months old son does this when he's upset and i whack him on the back to get his breathe back. His lips go blue and you can't hear any noise from his mouth it's horrific I don't know what to do ?

Shannon - posted on 03/25/2010




When I was little I did this too...I started it when I was about 6 months old and continued to do it till I think around 5...what finally stopped it was my mom dumped a bucket of cold water over my head right when I took the deep breath to hold my breath...never did it Seeing as how I'm 30 and it was different times 25 yrs ago I don't know that its a good idea but it really did work with me :-)

Shannon - posted on 03/23/2010




Thank you! I really do need to stop giving in to her. She is basically attached at my hip and screams bloody murder if I leave the room, or put her down. This is extremely difficult with a toddler as well. I was just scared about her being able to catch her breath after she passes out. I have only had to do rescue breathing and rub her back vigorously. I will definitely take in effect what you all have said, but hopefully I won't have to go through it again. I thought after the first time, it wouldn't be as scary, but it was the same scary feeling. Thank you again!

Tiffany - posted on 03/23/2010




Truely the docs are correct. It is a very scarry thing but perfectly fine in young children.

I worked in daycare for many years and had a few cases of this. We would sit with the children until they calmed down (talking to them about what is going on & why they are upset) but not give in and pick up. After a while of the episodes, and them not getting what they want, they eventually stop the behavior (not the holding breath - uncontrolled behavior - but the getting really upset. But don't lapse, it will start from the beginning and last twice as long. It is their way of throwing a tantrum. So ask yourself what you would do if your child were throwing a tantrum.

Watch to make sure they don't hurt themselves but give no attention.

if this happens while they are sleeping (not laying down to go to sleep) then you can buy devices to monitor breathing and movement.

if you find that these events occur around certain triggers (napping, putting down) try a different approach to activity. Instead of just laying down for naps or to bed and leaving try reading close by, then night by night get further away, then not talking, then sitting outside door until they fall asleep.

Despite the frightening nature of the episode, you must try to avoid reinforcing the initiating behavior. You should not avoid providing appropriate structure for children out of fear of causing spells. Distracting children and avoiding situations that lead to tantrums are the best ways of preventing and treating these spells.

Brandy - posted on 03/23/2010




I don't believe in CIO but if you are going to proceed in it, when she is screaming and crying and can't take a breath because she is too upset, blow in her face and she will immediately take a breath and probably start screaming again.

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