Breath-holding Spells

Q: “My 15-month-old girl has begun holding her breath until she gets whatever it is she wants. She turned blue the other day! What can I do to get her to stop this scary behavior?”

A: Breath-holding spells (BHS) are fairly common among young children (27% of healthy children do this, according to one study), with the greatest frequency in the second year of life.

Usually, children outgrow BHS by age 4. The best response to this form of tantrum is to ignore it, paying positive attention to the child only when the breath holding spell (or tantrum of any other kind) stops. Talk to your doctor about this behavior, however, to make sure the breath holding isn’t due to any kind of health problem.

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