Topic Overview

To keep your child safe during a
breath-holding spell:

  • Lay your child on the floor on his or her back,
    facing either upward or to one side.
  • Protect your child’s head,
    arms, and legs from hitting something hard or sharp
  • If your child was eating before a spell, open his or
    her mouth carefully and look for pieces of food, but do not try to remove food
    with your fingers. Instead, tilt your child’s head to the side so the food can
    come out on its own.
  • Touch and talk to your child. This helps you
    stay calm.
  • Time the spell with a watch. Spells usually last only a
    minute but seem longer.
  • Do not give your
    child any medicines during a spell.
  • Allow your child to wake up
    on his or her own after a spell.

Your child may stop breathing for up to 1 minute (60 seconds) during a spell. If your child doesn’t wake up quickly
and start breathing again, call 911 or other emergency services. The 911 operator may tell you to give your
child rescue breaths while you wait for help to arrive.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD – Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD – Developmental Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017