32 answers

2 Yr Old Passing Out When Crying

My son is 2 years old. He has always been very healthy. Ever since he was a little baby, when he cries really hard, like when he's really upset about something (getting shots at the doctor's office, for instance) he doesn't breathe when he's crying. In the last month, he's started passing out when he cries really hard like this. He starts crying and is holding his breath, and then after about 10 seconds, he just goes limp. As soon as he passes out, he starts breathing again, and then he's only out for a few seconds before he comes back again. Has anyone else experienced this? I can't decide whether to take him to the doctor for this. I'm pretty sure the reason it's happening is because he is not getting enough oxygen for those few seconds.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi M., I have not personally dealt with this with my daughter but my nephew does this as well. They blow in his face which makes him stop and calm down or at least it keeps him from passing out. It was very scary for them and now he is doing it less.

Hope this helps you. Also I have heard of other kids doing this so I don't think you need to go to the doctor but try this first and see if it helps.

B.

My 2 year old also holds his breath while crying. We have found that by splashing water on his face while he is holding his breath and then he will breath before passing out.

hello! just wanted to offer some support for you - i have 2 boys 3 and 2 and they both did that (and still do occassionally) when they cry hard. Same symptoms - his dr said that it is fairly common and that they do grow out of it - best thing to do is to blow in their face when you see it coming, they are losing a little oxygen at that time and the blowing usually makes them breathe in because it startles them. Though very scary i know it doesn't seem to be harmful - i would let the Dr. know at his next visit just to keep them in the loop, and notify any other caregivers to give them the heads up

More Answers

Our oldest used to do this same thing when she was little. As long as they start breathing when they pass out - no worries. He will outgrow it. I'd mention it at his next appt, but wouldn't make a special Dr appt for it. Lots of kids do it.

God Bless-
C.

My oldest did the same thing. She's now 5, it's been at least a year since it happened. They grow out of it. I asked her doctor, and he told me it's perfectly normal. He also said that he used to say that without much sympathy until he had a kid pass out in his office. He admitted it's scary, but when they hold their breath, the body does what it's supposed to do to get them to start breathing again. It's normal, and best to just lay them flat, arms above their head and let them come to. Sometimes, if I'd blow into her face really hard, she'd remember to breathe. I KNOW it's scary. Even knowing she was fine it would still freak me out a little. But he's fine and will grow out of it. I also noticed my daughter would be extra tired for the rest of the day when she would pass out - just something to watch for. Good luck!

My 2 year old also holds his breath while crying. We have found that by splashing water on his face while he is holding his breath and then he will breath before passing out.

The child I knew who did this ended up having a heart murmur and has had to have heart surgery, so I would also take him to a doctor to rule that out.

My Dad did this as a kid. It's normal and they grow out of it. If you are nervous about what it does to his brain and heart take him to a doctor. Though if it is a heart murmur, if you have a stethoscope, you can listen to his heart and rule that out yourself. It also depends on what type of heart murmur he would have. My son has a heart murmur and does not need surgery. He has been monitored every year and now that he is two, he won't have another appointment until he is 5, but I have things to watch for if something goes wrong. But it really is normal. Like the one said, blow in their face. This forces them to take a breath as a natural response. But otherwise ignore him and teach him to show his anger in other ways.

I am sure he is fine and you are probably right that this is related to him getting upset. I would take him to the doc anyways. Depriving your brain from oxygen just doesn't seem like the best thing. Maybe the doctor has some ideas to get him to calm down.

Good luck.

Some kids to that. Don't make a deal of it and he'll grow out of it. (And be grateful that he isn't one who cries so hard he throws up *grin*)

I haven't had my son pass out on me, but when he gets going crying, I usually feel the need to say, "Breathe!", we also joke with, "Wait for it...".
I can't imagine how scary it is to have him pass out, but from the responses below, you aren't alone, and just make sure that he isn't doing it for attention. Good luck.

Hi M.,
My son did this from about 2 weeks old until 3-4 years old. First off there are two kinds of breath holding, that which is for attention and you can squirt them with water or blow in their face and they will take a breath. That would have been nice. Then there is the other, These kids turn blue and pass out and and their back arches from the force of it all. This one is very scary and uncontrollable! Can sometimes even trigger a seizure of some sort. All of this happened with my son. I took him to heart and neurology specialists only to hear that on the scale( they actually rate it) he was a 10 but guess what he will grow out of it. My son did it everywhere. He didn't like lots of people. He didn't have to be angry..just see a stranger. He did it in the line to check out at the grocery store and I was just praying no one called the cops as my son turns blue then finally breaths and is passed out. Try explaining that one. Guess what he is 16 now and normal as can be. Even very outgoing and has lots of friends. Take heart it will get better! We used to spend Thanksgiving in the bedroom as he didn't like all the people.

M.,
This has never happened with my kids but it has happened to one of my neices and also a cousin. It was interesting to see how the parents handled this. With my neice, her mother always makes it such a big show and she herself would get upset about it. Therefore my neice still continues to do this regularly almost as a way to get attention. My Aunt always made sure to put my cousin someplace "safe" and was always attentive but never got worked up or upset about this situation. He did this several times for about 6 months and has now either "grown" out of it or has just stopped getting so upset to pass out because he wasn't getting the attention that he was expecting. Chances are that it isn't a medical condition, I would suggest learning CPR just so you can be prepared for the worst, but normally as soon as they pass out they breath instantly and then wake up. Best of luck.

When my youngest gets this upset our RN friends have the tendency of breathing in his face. He automatically catches his breath again and shrieks.

I didn't experience this as a parent, but as a sibling. My little brother as a baby would throw a tantrum, start screaming and hold his breath until he passed out. It was scary to watch my brother do this, but my mom (after being told by her doctor to do this) would carry him gently into his room and leave him to get over it. The doctor had told her that he would get over it when he stopped getting attention for it (hence the taking him into his room). He did stop after a few more times.
It didn't affect him, by the way ... he has a full-ride scholarship to one of the top universities in the country and is one of the smartest people I know.

hello! just wanted to offer some support for you - i have 2 boys 3 and 2 and they both did that (and still do occassionally) when they cry hard. Same symptoms - his dr said that it is fairly common and that they do grow out of it - best thing to do is to blow in their face when you see it coming, they are losing a little oxygen at that time and the blowing usually makes them breathe in because it startles them. Though very scary i know it doesn't seem to be harmful - i would let the Dr. know at his next visit just to keep them in the loop, and notify any other caregivers to give them the heads up

Hi M., I have not personally dealt with this with my daughter but my nephew does this as well. They blow in his face which makes him stop and calm down or at least it keeps him from passing out. It was very scary for them and now he is doing it less.

Hope this helps you. Also I have heard of other kids doing this so I don't think you need to go to the doctor but try this first and see if it helps.

B.

My sister did this when she was young so my Mom took her to the doc. He said that it was pure temper and had my Mom put her in her room so that she wouldn't get hurt and then close the door. That way she wasn't getting attention for it. Then she'd pass out and start breathing. She actually grew out of it pretty quickly once it wasn't bringing a response...

Talk to your doc to see if there could be any other reason for it, but it sounds like the same thing.

My 4 yr old son has done this same thing since he was a baby. Still till this day he does it when he is really upset or when he gets really hurt. So apparently it continues through their preschool years. He has passed out a total of 4 times and every time was just as scary as the one before. When he does this I blow in his mouth and he comes right back to. I addressed the situation with my peditrician and he said that this is a common thing and that yes they pass out because they are not getting enough oxygen for those few seconds that they are holding their breath. He said it is nothing to worry about and that obviously if he doesn't come back to in a matter of seconds then to call 911 and begin mouth to mouth but only if it has been too long since he was concious. It is a scary thing but try not to panic and just know it is common. Good Luck- hope this helps!

Yes, my son who is 31 now, would do that exact same senerio when he was about 8mo. to 2yrs. My mother said I did it too. It was so frighting for me to see him do this that I thought he was dying. His pediatrician said to just walk off & leave him there when he would do this but of course I didn't. What's happening is that they cry so hard that they cannot catch there breath and they pass out and then the brain takes over & they start breathing again and are usually listless & sleepy. It's always good to get them checked out by a Dr.though.

I would take him to the doctor.

My daughter who is now 17 did this all the time until she was about 7. I took her to the doctor and was told that this is common and that she would grow out of it. She did! I also would hold her and blow in her face. This would snap her out of it. It is very important that you warn babysitters and anyone in charge that this happens so they don't panic and think something is wrong.

M., my son used to do the same thing, it wasnt a deliberate holding his breath but he just used to get so upset that he would stop breathing! it only happened two or three times that he passed out from it. One of the times he got so upset was at a doctors visit and the pediatrician asked me if he ever passes, out and that was just after the first time he did, so it confirmed what i thought had happened. :) the doc said it can happen, but was not worried. although if it keeps happening probably worth just mentioning to you doc. poor kiddo

My girls did this when they were about 1 and the doctor said some kids just do this. There is nothing to worry about. Just watch him when he gets upset and make sure he's not going to pass out and hurt himself. It sounds like he's just throwing a tantrum.

I would definitely speak with a doctor about it. Is there any family history of heart problems? I would persist in learning about what is going on, and take him to a cardiologist if need be. If he has an undiagnosed heart problem, discovering the cause now could save his life.

Someone I know has the same experience with her toddler.
They talked about it to the doctor at their check up appt. It's a behavior, to get attention. To prevent her from passing out, when she helds her breath they blow on her face, which stops her from holding her breath. Their don't reward her, so she knows that crying hard like this does not pay off. I hope this will get resolved.

I did this as a child. My mom sent me this article from the New York Times telling me it was how she felt. It's called "Saving a Child, Scaring a Parent: A Fainting Reflex":
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/10/health/10case.html?_r=1

Hang in there!

Hi M.,
Our neighbor's daughter would do that. They used to have a spraybottle filled with water handy so that as soon as it looked like she was going to start to hold her breath, they'd spray her lightly with the water. She'd immediately start to breathe and be ok. She's now 9 and is healthy & happy. Good luck!

This is very common! They usually just have to grow out of it. My last child did this and it can be scary. A lot of times children do it for attention. Don't let him get you too worried. My only suggestion would be too keep him on a hard surface when he holds his breath so his tongue won't go back into his airway.

I used to do that too, cry till I passed out, hold my breathe, etc. It's basically a power play. My mom finally got tired of it and would just let me have it in the face with a glass of water, or stick my head under the faucet for a few seconds. (I usually got to stand in the corner for a few minutes afterwards, too.) I quickly learned that it was not a good idea! In addition, my mom put herself back in the power position, always a good thing.
thanks and good luck.

We were just at the doctor for this because our son starting having seizures after passing out. It's very normal for 2 and 3 yo to want to hold their breath to get a rise out of you. It's not at all dangerous unless they hurt themselves when falling. For our son, since he started seizing with it, the doctor suggested smacking his behind just hard enough to shock him into breathing. It's not at all like a spanking, it just startles him enough that he has to gasp for air. Unless your son starts seizing, he's probably just experimenting with how to get you to cow tow to him. I remember my cousins used to do this, too, when they were this age. We have friends whose kid did it, too, and their doctor told them the same thing... perfectly normal unless a seizure follows. If the seizure follows, you need to interrupt the pattern. I'm not sure how their doctor recommended doing that, though. GL! I know it's pretty scary. Passing out is the bodies way of protecting itself. Like you said, he has to breathe then, and comes back to. If you don't react to it, it should stop in a few months.

Its very common for kids to hold their breath while crying. My daughter has been doing this since she was about 6 months old. I wouldn't worry too much IF that is the only time he's doing it. If he has breathing problems besides that, then take him to the Dr. I am posting a link from a previous question about this that had great advice. I usually blow in my daughters face when she is screaming, and it startles her into taking a breath. Hope this helps

http://www.mamasource.com/request/13129251469041664001

It's a Vagal Nerve response. When he is crying and holding his breathe, it is similar to bearing down which causes a drop in blood pressure and heart rate. The body automatically makes him start breathing again. I wouldn't take him to the doctor as he already might have some anxiety (shots and such), but to put your mind at ease, it wouldn't hurt to call.

Hi M.-my daughter did this too starting at about 9 months old. She is 14 now and I'd like to blame her current behaviors on holding her breath so much as a baby, but alas, it's not the case....she's just a teenager! She did have breath holding spells until she was about 4. I ended up in the ER with her twice, once being the first time-because it seemed like she was having seizures and I had never heard of "breath-holding" before. The other time she actually fell off a chair and hurt herself, I couldn't tell if she was hurt, or if she passed out because she was in pain and holding her breath. Every time she did it, it was scary and I honestly never got used to it. I tried blowing in her face and usually it didn't work...she was already a goner. When she got a little older it seemed like being that upset took a toll on her too and she would be pale and listless for a couple of hours after a spell. I would look up "breath holding spells" on line, it is a neurological "disorder" so to speak..,.albeit benign...but it made me feel better to know it had a name and there isn't much you can do except wait till he grows out of it. Good luck!

M.,

I wouldn't be too worried about it. My nephew did that for years, then grew out of it. If I recall correctly, my sister's son's pediatrician said that there really wasn't anything to do about it, or wrong with it, since they maintain breathing as soon as they pass out. Just a dull headache when they wake up. Call your pediatrician and have a chat, this time of year, phone calls are an excellent resource to the office since I'm certain your doctor would prefer you keep healthy kids at home.

One thing we used to do to try to get him to not pass out was to blow in his face when he was crying. It worked a lot of the time, it would get him to breathe in. It has to be a short surprising blow, not a long gentle soothing blow. It is meant to startle and distract.

Hope you find something that works for you!! GOod luck, what you're dealing with is common AND scary.

V.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.