It can seem scary, but usually you don’t need to worry. Also called breath-holding attacks, these spells are somewhat common and can happen in healthy children. They can look like seizures , but they’re not. The spells don’t hurt the children, and many outgrow them by age 6 or 7.
Breath holding spells most often occur when a child becomes suddenly upset or surprised. The child makes a short gasp, exhales, and stops breathing. The child's nervous system slows the heart rate or breathing for a short amount of time. Breath holding spells are not thought to be a willful act of defiance, even though they often occur with temper tantrums. Symptoms can include: