Question: My Nephew Fainted Yesterday, Does Anyone Else Have Kids with “Breath-Holding Spells”?

Oh boy, parenting/baby talk! Which is either boring because you don’t have kids, or boring because you do have kids and spend all day talking like this.

Yesterday, my 1 year old nephew was angry and yelling at his parents, normal normal, when suddenly he went limp like all his strings had been cut and turned blue and fell over. He woke up again in a few seconds, but was still a little blue, and needless to say the whole thing was terrifying for the observers. They called the doctor’s office and came in for an emergency visit, and he was diagnosed with “breath holding spells”.

Apparently, some small children when they get very very angry forget to breath. And then they turn blue and faint, and then they wake up and are fine. It’s supposed to last for about another two years and just be a part of their life that his poor parents will have to get used to.

Had anyone else seen this? Is this really a thing or was the doctor just making it up? If you have seen it, any tips?

17 thoughts on “Question: My Nephew Fainted Yesterday, Does Anyone Else Have Kids with “Breath-Holding Spells”?

  1. Wow! That has to be terrifying for the parents. Haven’t come across anything like this yet. Though it’s bad enough when they hurt themselves really bad and can’t breathe from the pain for like a second. That silent scream just seems to last forever and you almost forget to breathe yourself until it’s over and you can comfort your baby.

    How is your sister coping? Because really, the kid will be fine, just like our little one’s forehead healed without any lasting trauma. But having your baby faint on you has to be a major shock.


    • I think they are doing okay, but the idea of “and this will just keep happening for two years” is a bit daunting. One time is okay, you calm down and stop worrying, but knowing it could happen again at any moment is exhausting.

      On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 7:26 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. Kids are strange creatures. I never witnessed babies fainting (it must be terrifying) but I saw many crying so much they almost stopped breathing. My grandma had a way to deal with it: when the baby cries and you see he doesn’t breathe , you should blow delicately into his open mouth; it forces him to catch a breathe. I don’t know if it will help, but none of us fainted so maybe it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My cousin is just one year old,and he occasionally experiences it.The doctors said that it doesn’t have an exact medication,and is something that goes away with age.Precautions can be not to let the baby lay on its tummy and if possible while sitting provide some support to the back of the head otherwise dropping the head backwards can cause problem.And try to ensure that the baby doesn’t cry or screech(I may sound like an idiot with this one,but seriously the doctor stressed on the last bit.How on earth do we prevent a baby from crying!?)


    • YES! What world is this doctor living in? Of course the baby is going to cry! The doctor advice my sister got was similar, try to keep things with sharp corners and edges out of the baby’s play area so when he faints again (and he will), he doesn’t hit something when he falls. No way to prevent it, no real problem it it happening, just make sure they don’t get hurt when it does happen.

      Anyway, nice to hear my nephew is not alone with this.

      On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 8:28 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  4. I have heard of a child, a little older, getting super mad and holding their breath on purpose till they turned blue and terrified everyone around them. He did grow out of it… My oldest, as an infant, would sometimes clench his fists so hard his whole arm would turn purple. He is surprisingly mellow now. Some kids are prone to super high fevers that cause seizures. My youngest has twice choked (really choked) on mushy avocado. All three of my children have choked. I suppose I would trust the doctor, but blowing in his mouth can’t hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The doctor said it isn’t on purpose, it’s just how some babies work, they forget to breathe when they get angry. And also that it has nothing to do with later personality, the doctor had one baby who grew up to be the calmest easiest child, and another who kept throwing tantrums, both were breath holders as babies. So what you saw with your son, big drama as a baby, calm child.

      Really, babies are amazing. All these little bits and pieces that don’t quite work right yet, from the gag reflex to breathing.

      On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 9:41 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • The “on purpose” is from the perspective of the teller. I remember when my oldest was two days old, and wouldn’t stop crying. I started to get mad at him. So I walked around the shack saying “He’s two days old, you’re 32.” over and over.


  5. Oh it’s definitely a thing. My sister did it ALL THE TIME when she was little and would get angry, which was a lot because she was a terror. Even at a young age, I remember my mom trying to work with her to breathe when she got angry instead of passing out. It worked about 50% of the time. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have cut an onion in half and held it to her nose so she’d wake up quickly (apparently it was a thing in India). We literally had an onion always on standby! The good news is, she has turned out to be a wonderfully kind and lovely adult.


    • Okay, Angie says to breathe into the baby’s mouth, you say have half an onion available, this is excellent actionable advice! Far better than the doctor’s “it happens” response. And your sister is nice and easy, also good news. This kid is such a little pickle right now, I do not want this personality of dissatisfaction and complaining to last into teen years.

      On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 9:55 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  6. Blowing in their face absolutely works. I use it all the time and it gets the child to pause. Also, if you walk up to a screaming child in public and ask them, “Why are you crying?” nine times out of ten they will immediately stop. Whether it’s because they’re startled that some rando spoke to them, or genuinely perplexed that someone actually asked *why* they are crying, I have no idea, but it works. Then they remember that the aren’t *so* mad at mom as to want to leave her comforting arms. 🤗


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