More new mom questions…

More new mom questions… January 13, 2014

Questions, questions. We are starting a huge family undertaking tomorrow, and amidst a long to-do list and much bustling over the past weeks, our little miss started a new phase that is causing some pause in our home…

Ok, actually it is terrifying me, but we’ve already been to the pediatrician once, so I’m canvassing experience.;)

Over Christmas break there were a few instances where she stopped breathing after getting startled or scared. We freaked out each time, because, let’s be real, it’s TERRIFYING to watch your baby do something crazy like forget to take in life-giving oxygen, especially if it isn’t related to, say, a tantrum. When we took her to the doc’, he was very calm about it but said that it could get worse and she might start passing out (whaa?)…

…which she did three times this week.

Another friend who’s husband was a paramedic had a daughter do something similar and said it can be normal. To which I say “what’s normal about stopping breathing and passing out at age 10 months”???!!!! She’s also incredibly clingy, which she hasn’t been really ever in her little life, so it seems like she’s hitting the ‘stranger-danger’ phase hard… but I don’t know that it’s necessarily related, since some of the episodes were at home with no one else around.

In any case, I want to get a second opinion I think just for peace of mind, but has anyone else dealt with this? If so, how long has it lasted?

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  • Queen B

    Whew, so alarming for you, J! Fortunately, breath-holding is not as unusual as you might think. The good thing is, its much scarier for you than it is for her. Once she “passes out” her normal breathing pattern will kick in. Normally, the fainting is actually a protective reflex on the part of her brain, not something pathologic. Our little ones are changing so quickly at this stage, aren’t they? The good news is that these clingy and breath-holding phases will pass with time — probably just as we get to mastering them!

  • That is alarming but from what I’ve heard it happens, and isn’t something to freak out about (although I’d probably be freaking). I thought I remembered Tex having one of her kids do this with regularity? Perhaps she can give you some coping strategies.

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    Breath holding spells happen in 5% of children, usually between 4 months and 4 years. After that it can be a “learned behavior”, but not at p’s age. I freaked out big time when it happened the first time and you were absolutely correct to take her to the ped to make sure there is not a seizure disorder. Our second son did this several times a week (or sometimes a day) for 3+ years, usually in response to pain or being scared or separated from mommy….we never left him in a nursery or with a sitter as a result, because no one is really comfortable with you saying your child may pass out a time or two. Some babies do it only once or twice. It is not fun, for you or for your baby, but is not harmful.

    Despite what some say about laying your child down on a soft floor when they start to pass out (so they do not learn to do it for attention), the idea of laying down my blue/passing out 1 year old was more than this momma could handle. I would hold him baby style and try breathing sharply in his face, which can sometimes startle them into taking a breath and break the breath holding. But usually, he would turn red, white and blue, go limp in my arms and regain consciousness a few seconds later. He would be disoriented when he opened his eyes and whimper, especially when he was closer to 2. Then he would be clingy/want me to hold him for up to 20 minutes (sling/ergo is helpful here).

    The greatest danger is that they could hurt themselves as they will fall over if left to pass out on their own. We also used other means of soothing (paci, blankies) longer than with our other kids as that seemed to help a little.

    Also, every time he started to pass out, I would say a prayer to his guardian angel that he would breathe again!

    If you have any other questions, shoot away!

  • RST

    This happened to one of my children. It was very scary. Our ped said to keep an eye on it but not worry. In retrospect I wish I had taken my son to an ENT or developmental pediatrician (maybe overkill) for evaluation instead of following this advice. When my son had his adenoids out at age 3 (because he’d had a runny nose continuously since he was 1) the improvement in his sleep and behavior was dramatic — the poor kid hadn’t been getting enough oxygen. This breath-stopping may be nothing, but I would not dismiss the possibility of it being something anatomical or physical and I wouldn’t take a ped’s word that it’s nothing – if it keeps up, see a specialist.

    I debated whether to include this, because I don’t necessarily think it’s connected and I don’t want to scare you, but my son is on the autism spectrum and has some peculiar/repetitive behaviors (he’s a great kid overall and very smart and capable). I DEFINITELY don’t think that the breath holding caused the ASD, but I do think the breath holding is in line with a lot of the behaviors he has had and has now (he’s 10). When my husband and I look back on his babyhood we remember the breath-holding along with other things he used to do and think, we should have known something was up. Our ped said it was normal, and it may be, but if I could go back in time I would have explored what was going on more thoroughly.

  • Sara

    My youngest did this a lot! It was always when she would hurt herself and cry so hard that she held her breath and would pass out! It was crazy but it has lessened with age. I read about it and most times it is not a problem but sometimes they say it has to do with a heart problem. I didn’t think that was the case with her because she would hold her breath so long I can’t imagine how she wouldn’t pass out! When she would pass out though, I would rub her sternum on her chest to get her to wake up. That usually did the trick.

  • Mama A

    Our oldest did this quite a bit – it started around 10 months old and ended somewhere around 3.5 years old. In the beginning, it was primarily separation-anxiety or because she was hurt. She would pass out when I left the room or if she had a boo boo, she’d get so worked up about it, she would pass out. It was rough.
    We were told just to make sure she couldn’t hurt herself on the way down. This effectively ruled out all forms of “crying it out” for us. Somewhere between 18 months and 2 years, it went from her being upset to part of her tantrum routine. She’d be passed out in the cart at the grocery store because I said “No Candy.” That got quite a few looks; it was horrible. Blowing on her face also seemed to help stop it as it was starting. Overall, she outgrew it. Today she’s a very bright and very sensitive five year old 🙂 Apparently, I did the same thing as a child, and so did my mom!

  • disqus_7ubn7RaIwo

    (Disclaimer– not sure why its not putting up my name, but this is J’!). Thanks so much for sharing… It seems to be very similar to Pia. Sigh… Prayerfully hoping it ends before 3!!

  • disqus_7ubn7RaIwo

    (This is J’!) interesting trick on rubbing the sternum… I’ll try it!

  • disqus_7ubn7RaIwo

    Thanks! I think I want a second opinion anyway just in case…

  • disqus_7ubn7RaIwo

    Thanks…actually what you described is what is happening to a ‘t’…complete with the clinginess afterwards. Thanks for sharing Tex’.

  • Sara

    My sister who is a nurse taught me the trick. I rub with my knuckles and then I usually let her take a few breaths before I nurse her. She is 2.5 now and thankfully only occasionally does this!

  • Anonymous

    Builders: For some reason none of the comments on your posts from 2013 and earlier are showing up. Any idea whether this is a problem wtih Patheos?

  • Bethany

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention! We’ll look into it!