The 18-week-old suffers from trachea bronchial malcia - a condition that has left his windpipe so weak it risks collapsing each time he cries out.
And not surprisingly, his mum Nikki Hallett is beside herself with worry every time he wails.
"Rio weighed only 3lb and 11oz, but he seemed fine at birth," said the 44 year-old from Grimsby, Lincolnshire.
"Then, two days later he was diagnosed with multiple problems.
"He went floppy and grey because he had stopped breathing. I was devastated.
"My worst fear is when he cries, because it could be fatal. If his windpipe collapses totally, that could be it.
"One day he burst out crying and he turned a red and purple colour, so I rushed him to hospital to get him breathing again.
"I have even had training to resuscitate him, and I have to lay him flat to help him breathe.
It is very scary. I keep an eye on him all the time to make sure he is breathing.
Sheffield's Children's Hospital cared for Rio-James for five weeks - three of which he was on a ventilator to help him to breathe.
Staff there have warned Nikki that he will also need open heart surgery when he reaches the age of three. But they hope that his windpipe will heal itself.
Nikki's friend Jade Harvey-Gardner is hoping to raise money to convert the dining room of Nikki's home into a private sensory room.Jade, 23, of Nunsthorpe said: "Rio is such a happy little boy and he deserves all the help he can get."