8 answers

Child Who Holds Their Breath When They Cry?

My 19 month old holds his breath when he cries. Johnathan only does this when he gets hurt. He often does it when he is playing with his brother and no adult is present. He often hurts himself when he falls (passes out). If no one is there to give him attention, do you really think it's still a tantrum? So much to the point that he turns a light shade of blue/gray, falls to the floor, shakes a bit and then begins breathing. Then, he just lays there and gasps for breath for about 30 seconds. The doctors tell me to ignore it. It is so sad to watch -- they said there is nothing I can do about it and that he'll outgrow it. He's been doing it about 5-6 times per day lately and it's very stressful for me to watch. Does anyone else have kids that do this? Any advice??

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I use to do that as a child. I grew out of it by time I was 5 or 6. My mom was also told to ignore. But when she didn't I did it more often. We were just talking about this today, because I noticed my son doing it tooo.

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It's funny that you brought this up as my family was just talking about this the other day. My father used to do this when he was little. He would literally pass out from holding his breath. I read in "What to Expect the First Year" that many children do this. Your son is probably doing it because he is upset or frustrated. Some children will yell out, some hold it in (ie holding their breath). It is a phase, and he will grow out of it. It will not do any damage to him - just keep an eye out for when he does pass out that he doesn't hurt himself. I can only imagine how stressful it is on you to watch.

If he only does it when he's hurt, not during a tantrum, that certainly changes my response. If you're near him, try blowing hard in his face...not sure if that'll work on an older baby, but it certainly works great on younger ones to make them breathe.

The part you added about passing out when he falls...that'd concern me, and I think I'd try a new doctor.


this might sound silly, but my daughter's doctor told me to try it when she had really bad temper tantrums when she was 5 they got so bad she would make herself throw-up! Get yourself a squirt gun. When he starts to loose control and holds his breath try first telling him in a loud firm voice "breathe". If that doesn't work (your counting on the startle factor) then try a short quick squirt of cold water in his face. This should make him breath instinctively. He (the doctor)said this was an old fashioned remedy for "fits". Although it sounded weird and silly I tried it....and it worked great and I only had to do it about 3 times although I kept my squirt gun around for a long time! LOL You can use a small squirt bottle, a cold wet wash cloth, whatever you feel more comfortable with. I hope this helps you!

I use to do that as a child. I grew out of it by time I was 5 or 6. My mom was also told to ignore. But when she didn't I did it more often. We were just talking about this today, because I noticed my son doing it tooo.

To be honest as stressful as it is to watch I wouldn't worry to much about it. My mother always told me stories of when my brother would do it everyday to the point where he would turn blue and actually pass out from it. He eventually outgrew it and was fine. Good luck!

My daughter did that to the point that she passed out. It is scary, but they do make it through. It is really hard, but I found with Ellie, once I started ignoring it, she quit doing it. Every kid tests their boundries in defferent ways, and unfortunately, this is one of them.

I had 2 that did this, and as much as you don't want to hear this, I found that if you ignore it, it will stop. If you run over and comfort, especially in public, it will go on for longer.

I found that if you let them start the tantrum, leave the room for the first minute or two, and then come back in when they are in full wail and get down to their level to talk to them in a low voice (so that they have to crank down the volume to listen) "Johnathan, this is not how you get your way, this is not how your brother acts, calm down" ect. Good Luck!

Hi A.,
I unfortunately don't have advice regarding your son holding his breath. Maybe just try to hold his face very close to yours and ask calmly "what's wrong? what do you need?" My son has a bit of a temper and the other day he was upset when I took a screwdriver that I was using from him. I picked him up and put us nose to nose and just talked calmly to him and he seemed to respond. He stopped crying and just held his face close. I kissed him on the nose and cheek and it seemed to dissolve a negative situation into a more positive-bonding one.

On another note-I desperately would like to work from home. Started looking into medical billing and some of my research is disappointing. You mentioned that you work from home. Any advice or references for me to look into? I would love to stay at home with my 15 month old son-love of my life!

Thanks and hope to hear back from you...

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