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Does anyone else have a toddler that holds his breath when he cries really hard?

669 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  puddinnpeanut
My 15 month old fell and hit his head pretty hard the other day. He immediately started crying and I went and scooped him up to console. He suddenly got "stuck" mid-cry where he sucked all his breath in, but wasn't able to push the air back out with a cry. He did this until he passed out in my arms!
I was hysterical! It took maybe 10 seconds for him to come to again and then he cried for a while and was eventually fine. We were **** totally freaked because all this happened after a bump to the head, so we went to the ER. Long story short..... the passing out had nothing to do with the bump to the head. It was totally related to him holding his breath while crying. I had actually seen him do this before but not even close to the extent that it happened that night. It always seems to happen in reaction to pain, but not necessarily anger.

Our ped said this happens in about 5% of kids and usually goes along with a hot temper (which he does have) Does anyone else have any experience with this? How do you handle it? I have never been so scared in my life,
and I'm just wondering if anyone else has ever gone through something like this.
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My son Rory used to do this but hasn't in about a month (he's 17 mos). For us, it was mostly out of frustration/anger - I'd hand him to his dad to use the restroom, but he didn't want me to go so he'd cry then hold his breath exactly as you described. He passed out once in his Dan's arms beacuse of it, Dan came running to my hysterical thinking something horrible had happened. He woke up at about the time Dan got to the room I was in. Most other times he didn't pass out, he just did it until he started to turn blue the breathed again.

He has never done it in my arms, so we just have to make a point of not letting his frustration get to that point, and if it does, making sure I'm nearby.

I wish I had some actual advice for you, but I can commiserate and at least let you know you's isn't the only kidlet doing this. BTW, mine has done thins since he was about 6 mos old.
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my ds, who is 19 months old, does this on occasion. He has done it once to the point of passing out, but I knew that even if I couldn't MAKE him breathe, as soon as he passed out his body's automatic response would be to breathe. And that's exactly what happened! It was a little scary, but he does it about once a month out of frustration or pain, and we're getting more used to it happening. I assume that he'll grow out of it... I don't know any adults who hold their breath when they dont get their way.
Until that happens, I find that blowing gently on his face sometimes seems to help him remember to breathe. oh, and he certainly does have a hot temper, so I believe your doctor.
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Mimi did this all of twice and I nearly had a heart attack both times. I was reassured it was normal, though scary, and she did outgrow it. She was around 12 months the first time it happened.

Thank you ladies for your responses. It's nice to know that we're not the only ones! It is a scary thing when you don't know what's going on. I think we'll be more mentally prepared if it happens again. I still have that feeling of my limp lifeless baby in my arms, though, and its awful. I swear , it felt like he was out for minutes, but my husband assures me it was 10 seconds, tops!
Oh, yes! My niece does this! Apparently, it's a family thing--- my BIL and his mom did the same thing when they were infants. Now they both have issues with blood or things of that nature. For example, my BIL had a seizure/convulsion during my sister's recent ultrasound (twice), and his mom just blanks out once in a while. (She says she just freezes for a bit, but I think it's when she's very upset). So, sadly, it looks like this won't be the end of things for my niece, but if it's a new thing in your family, it probably won't be nearly so severe or even last past childhood.

One thing my sister does is to force her DD to lie down when she realizes she's going to hold her breath. She found that she can't hold her breath that way. My niece has lost consciousness as a result of holding her breath, so my sister would rather avoid that (but I think that's just the body's self-defense to get her to breathe). My sister also has luck with throwing a little water on her face, to sort of break the "spell" (this is before it's gotten too bad-- when you see that the child is starting to hold his/her breath).
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Just some more reassurance you are not alone! My niece did this when she was a baby and toddler. I can remember her falling or hurting herself in some way and then screamimg and then she would start to turn blue around the mouth! She passed out several times! My sister would blow in her face and say BREATHE! My dd has never passed out, but has stopped breathing momentarily when she cries really hard! I definitely agree with the temper thing too! But both are amazing kids so I wouldn't worry about it too much! I am sure it must have been scary the first time though! Good luck to you!
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