Are their little brains freezing and they just don't know how to say so? Oh the humanity!
July 5, 2009 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Do toddlers get brain freeze (sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia or "ice-cream headache" or "cold stimulus headache" ... not a sudden absence of rational thought)? Or do they simply not show it?

I was indulging in the Philadelphia summer tradition of eating water ice on a hot day with my 2 year old daughter. It took about 4 bites before I had the usual pain of "brain freeze". My daughter, however, powered through hers without so much as a wince or moment's hesitation. It got me thinking ... I know that children get brain freeze (there have been studies conducted in middle-school students). But what about toddlers? Is brain freeze age-dependent?

I am asking, of course, for anecdotal evidence. I've looked at the medical literature and can't find anything clear. But I figured that if enough toddler-watchers on AskMe might contribute their observations, I could come up with a rough estimation. Feel free to do the experiment and report the results.
posted by scblackman to Food & Drink (16 answers total)
FWIW, I've never had it.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:34 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I remember soothing a confused and frightened three year old through one when she got a little too excited about a snow cone.

(I'll never forget the shock and horror in her eyes as she held her forehead and started crying. That frozen purple treat had betrayed her, and I got lost for awhile thinking about how she'd have a whole life of disappointment and pain ahead, and she wouldn't see that coming either. It was a sad day. Then we went for a ride on the merry-go-round.)
posted by rokusan at 3:38 PM on July 5, 2009 [14 favorites]

I was wondering this, too, the other day as I fed my 16-month-old ice. He didn't flinch either, and neither does his other little friend who likes to chomp ice.
posted by wallaby at 3:40 PM on July 5, 2009

My 2.5 year old has never complained about brain freeze. She also loves ice cubes. Then again, she doesn't complain about other discomforts I would complain about (wet clothes, shoes on the wrong feet, etc). Of course, she does complain about plenty of things that either make no sense or that I can't control (like turning off the sun at 6am so she could see fireflies).

Hmmm... I wonder if there are enough of us for a Philly/South Jersey Kids of MeFi meetup (aka "playdate")?
posted by ellenaim at 3:50 PM on July 5, 2009

Best answer: When my son was 18 months old, he had his first popsicle. About 1/4 of the way through, he suddenly looked like he was going to poop - red, straining face, shaking fists - then he yelled out, "RAWWWWWRRRR!"


Resume eating. RAWWWWWWRRRRR! Repeat for several rounds until the treat was gone. We could only assume brain freeze.
posted by peep at 4:43 PM on July 5, 2009 [10 favorites]

I have a nearly two-year-old, I live near a good ice cream parlour, and I've never seen a hint of a brain freeze.
posted by kmennie at 5:13 PM on July 5, 2009

If you consider 2 years 4 months to be toddlerhood, the answer is hell yes.
posted by plinth at 5:27 PM on July 5, 2009

I think some people just don't get brain freezes - in my 21 and a half years, I've never had one.
posted by firei at 6:32 PM on July 5, 2009

Yes they do, I know from experience with toddler.
posted by fifilaru at 6:43 PM on July 5, 2009

My youngest appeared to get it after biting into an ice cream cone with her two front teeth.
posted by BinGregory at 8:42 PM on July 5, 2009

When my kids were little, I remember them getting the brain freeze sensation after drinking malts/icees/floats through a straw, but not when eating from a spoon or drinking without a straw.
posted by amyms at 10:40 PM on July 5, 2009

Don't recall any brain freeze with my kids. Since BF is a physical reaction (cold stuff hitting the nerves on the roof of your mouth?), the reaction probably varies from kid to kid.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 5:42 AM on July 6, 2009

I often comment: My (4 year old) child is the next evolutionary step for human kind - he appears immune to brain freeze.
posted by csmason at 5:46 AM on July 6, 2009

after a few bites of ice cream, my two year old will hold out both hands and kinda shake them like he's holding back an invisible crushing wall and making quite a face of concentration. He's either a wizard fighting invisible foes who are trying to steal his ice cream, or he gets brain freeze.
posted by jrishel at 6:54 AM on July 6, 2009

Just want to say this is an unexpectedly hilarious post.

My 19 month olds don't seem to get it. I'm always giving them the weensiest bites of ice cream to prevent it, but sometimes I'll give them a huge spoonful and they don't even flinch.

(Yeah, I feed them the ice cream. Like I'm going to give three toddlers their own bowls and spoons. Not when we're inside, anyway...)
posted by pyjammy at 10:39 AM on July 6, 2009

Last weekend my daughter (2.5 years) was eating ice cream, and for every bite after the first she had her hand on her forehead... "So tasty, but so painful!" Honest, it was kind of cute ;)
posted by lowlife at 11:26 AM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

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