Holter Monitors

What is a Holter monitor?

A Holter monitor is a small machine that records your child's heartbeat. It is like an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records the electrical activity of your child's heart. A Holter monitor does this for 24 or 48 hours (1 or 2 days). It has an event button that you can push when your child is having symptoms.

Putting on the Holter monitor

First, a technician will clean places on your child's chest with alcohol. This helps to make sure the recording is clear. Then the technician will put 5 stickers called electrodes on your child's chest. The electrodes are attached to the monitor with wires.

The technician will cover the electrodes with tape so they do not fall off. Your child will carry the monitor in a pocket or on a strap. The strap can go over the shoulder or around the waist.

Holter Monitor
Get Adobe Flash player
A Holter monitor records your child's heartbeat for 24 hours. Children should continue all normal daily activities, except bathing, showering, or swimming. Physical activity is recommended.

While your child is wearing the Holter monitor

While the monitor is on, your child should keep doing what he does normally. Your child should do some physical activity such as running or playing sports, unless he has been told not to by his cardiologist. Your child should not shower, swim, or take a bath while wearing the monitor.

Keeping a diary

You will be given a diary. Use it to write down what your child does all day. If you use the event button on the monitor, write the reason in the diary as well.

Using the event button

The event button on the monitor is used to mark events like these:

  • chest pain
  • feeling dizzy or fainting
  • shortness of breath
  • fast or abnormal heartbeat (palpitations)
  • taking heart medicine

If any of these things happen:

  1. Push the event button on the monitor.
  2. Check the time.
  3. Write down what happened in the diary.

The event button marks the time of the event on the recording. When we look at it later, we will know exactly when your child took medicine or had symptoms.

If your child has symptoms

Follow your doctor's instructions to deal with symptoms. Call a doctor or go to the hospital if your child needs it.

Important points to remember

  • Check the stickers from time to time to make sure they are firmly in position. If they are loose, press down around the edges.
  • Write down in the diary what your child does and any symptoms he has.
  • Push the event button when your child takes heart medicine or has symptoms.
  • Protect the monitor when your child is playing sports.
  • Do not let the monitor get wet.

You must bring the monitor back within 7 days

When the recording period is finished, you can take off the stickers and the tape. You can throw the stickers and tape in the garbage. Make sure that all of the wires stay attached to the monitor. Do not take the batteries out of the monitor.

You must bring the monitor and the diary back within 7 days. When the monitor is put on your child, we will plan with you how and when to bring or send it back. The monitors are expensive and we need them for other patients, so please remember to return your monitor.

Your cardiology team will give you instructions on how to return your monitors. 

Getting the results of the Holter test

Your child's cardiologist (heart specialist) will give you the results of your child's Holter test. He or she can also answer your questions about the test.

Key points

  • A Holter monitor is a small machine that records your child's heartbeat for 24 or 48 hours (1 or 2 days).
  • While he is wearing the monitor, your child should do what he normally does. He should not swim, bathe, or shower.
  • If your child has symptoms or takes medicine while wearing the monitor, push the event button and make a note in the diary.
  • Bring or send the monitor and the diary back within 7 days.

Laura Fenwick, BSc
Robert Hamilton, MD, FRCPC
Carrie Morgan, RN, MN
Cindy Wasyliw, BNSc, RN


At SickKids please return your monitor to room 4A47 Monday - Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm. After hours and on the weekends please return the monitor to the Holter Monitor drop box to the locked drop-box at the 4A reception desk in the Atrium.