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Breath-holding in babies and children


Open all pages about Breath-holding in babies and children

A child who has a breath-holding episode may cry and then be silent, turn pale, blue or grey and be floppy or stiff. They may faint for a few minutes.

Things you can do if a child has a breath-holding episode include staying calm, lying them on their side and making sure they cannot hit their head.

There's no specific treatment for breath-holding (medicines are rarely used). It usually stops by the time a child is 4 or 5 years old.

Breath-holding is not done deliberately. It’s usually triggered by a sudden shock or pain, or strong emotions like fear, upset or anger.

Breath-holding is when a baby or child stops breathing for up to 1 minute and turns blue or grey. They may also faint for 1 or 2 minutes.

Page last reviewed: 02/03/2023
Next review due: 02/03/2026