6 Year Old Constantly Taking Deep Breaths

Updated on February 18, 2012
M.B. asks from Colorado Springs, CO
7 answers

My 6 yr old son has started, in the past few days, to constantly take deep breaths. He will just take in one huge breath/gasp. He isn't blue or anything so he's getting enough oxygen. I'm wondering if this could be a habit? He has always been a very anxious child and has gone through many strange habits (nail biting, twisting his ears, biting his lip, etc). He has his physical next week so I plan to ask the Ped about it, but I'm curious if anyone else has seen their kids do this? Oddly, after watching him do it for a bit, I suddenly felt the need to take deep breaths and like I wasn't getting enough oxygen, the mind is very powerful. He doesn't do it when he's sleeping, so I assume that he is getting enough oxygen.

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So What Happened?

I asked the pediatrician about it, and she saw him do it while we were in the office. Based on what she saw, she felt very confident it was just a tic of some sort that if we ignore will pass. He is a very anxious child. For the person who mentioned reflux, I DO think he has that too. He has his well-checkup next week and I am going to ask about it. I had it severely as a child, and I just remembered that when you posted. He does have 'wet' burps and is always clearing his throat after he eats. What can they do about reflux, just put them on a prescription antacid?

More Answers



answers from Denver on

Does he ever cough too? Reflux can cause kids to do both. Watch if he does it more before or after eating, etc. My youngest had reflux and he did funny breathing things to try to releive it. Often they think the feeling is normal because they don't know how to explain what they feel so they just try to alleviate the feeling. Without mentioning the breathing, offer a drink of water or milk if you see him breathing funny and see if he does it less afterward. If so, the heartburn caused by reflux could have been relieved with the drink. If this is the case you would want to see a pediatric gastroenterologist.

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answers from Phoenix on

Your post made me take a deep breath, then my son did it too so it's kind of contagious...LOL A couple of my kids would do that when they'd do their math. I doubt it's something medical but if he keeps doing it and you're worried or there are other symptoms, a check up will put your mind at ease. Good luck to you!!

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answers from Dallas on

I would not worry about it too much. Boys in general do things that we as women will NEVER understand! I am in a house full of boys. 41, 13 & 9. They all do crazy stuff that make no since. I am fixing to nick name my 9 year old Al Bundy. He does not realize what he's doing till I tell him to stop.

Good luck and God Bless!



answers from Muncie on

Keep an eye on him and definitely talk to your doctor about it.

As for my unprofessional opinion. This could be an OCD soothing mechanism. I am by no means a professional, it's just a guess in the dark. You mention he's a worrier and that's what came to mind. OCD behaviours/rituals are done partly for comfort. Most who have OCD describe their rituals as comforting, that they "feel" better when they do them.

Watch him and see when he does it, does it seemed connected to anything that he's about to do or something you're about to do.

Good luck.



answers from Seattle on

Get his o2 checked anyway... some kids don't turn blue quickly, and the deep breaths may very well be preventing him from turning blue to begin with.

From a mom whose son has moderate to severe breathing issues here are some other fun signs BEFORE blue comes on:

- Bright pink spots on the cheeks
- White ring around the mouth
- Glassy eyes
- Mood changes (cranky or REALLY silly... the silly is from being high from o2 dep)

Danger signs = all of the above ... but 'go to the ER now' = belly breathing & retractions

(Take off your shirt and stand in front of the mirror. Then put your hand over your nose and mouth so you can't breathe at ALL ... pinch them shut... and try to inhale. You'll see the skin around your collarbone and ribs get "sucked inward", and your belly sucks in even though you're not trying to. If ANY of these things are happening when your son is taking deep breaths... go straight to the ER. It means his airways are blocked and his lungs cannot fully inflate. There are lots of causes for that... from walking pneumonia to inflamation to bronchiospasms to collapsing lungs. ALL need to be treated. If he's retracting at all... OUT THE DOOR.)

My son had breathing issues for YEARS that we didn't know about because he adapted to them so well. He took fast shallow breaths, followed by deep breathing. He could literally run miles using his tricks... and he's a hospital oddity, because he'll be chatting up the nurses and doctors and just as bright and perky at in the 70's and 80's (and not blue at all) as a kid is with full stats at 98-99.

It's probably nothing with your son... but had I known ANY of these things years ago, we could have had him treated before his condition became life threatening.



answers from Washington DC on

Usually deep breaths do help calm anxiety. This just may be his way of getting some relief. I think most people take those deep breaths when their anxious...even if they don't realize that they're doing it.



answers from Minneapolis on

My 6 year old has had a number of odd habits in the last year (he'll be 7 next month) including - smelling his hands (so odd - usually after washing them), feeling his heart beat (he did this for about 6 weeks, all the time), pulling his pants up so that they are higher than his ankles so his "feet feel better" (whatever that means).

I think 6 year olds often have odd habits. My son is a bit of a worrier/anxious too. But all the phases have past. I'm waiting for the next one :)


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