Does Your Baby Twitch At Times? THIS Is What You Must Know
6 mins read
Health & Safety for New Born, Baby
If babies could talk, it would perhaps solve half of every mother's problems. We would know exactly why the baby is crying instead of having to try various solutions to see what the actual issue is – hunger, discomfort or need for attention! But since babies cannot talk, their body language and signals do the job for us. Every little action a baby makes has some sort of significance. One body signal that can make moms especially worried is JERKY or TWITCHY movements in babies.
From time to time, you must have noticed that your little one's chin or cheek seems to suddenly quiver, out of nowhere. Sometimes, your baby's legs may tremble very quickly. Our first instinct is to check if the baby is feeling cold, scared, or is running a fever. But very often, we cannot identify any reason at all.
Why Do Babies Jerk/Twitch So Often?
Such small jerky movements (referred to as 'myclonus') are very commonly seen in little ones, and they seem to be extremely calm about it. There may be no signs of crying or discomfort at all. But why does it happen if your baby is not feeling cold and there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him?
• Their Nervous System Is Immature
Most of the twitching/jerking or trembling that happens to babies is actually related to their brain. The first two years in your baby's life are extremely crucial as it is during this period that their nervous system undergoes several developmental changes and the process of maturation. When babies are born, their innate reflexes are quite immature and this results in their over reactive behaviour. Trembling, quivering and other such reflexes usually take place during this tenure and tend to stop thereafter.
You might see these reflexes occur in your baby's chin, lower lip and limbs (arms and legs), even multiple times in a day. As soon as the nervous systems begins its process of maturation, jitteriness or quivering begins disappearing.
• Blame It On The Hormones
Not only the nervous system, but hormones like norepinephrine can also be sometimes responsible for these sudden reflexes. Experts suggest that high levels of this hormone can cause tremors in newborns, mainly as this hormone functions very similarly to adrenaline. These hormones are released in response to the human body adapting to the new environment. Your baby, at this age, has a lot of adapting to do!
WATCH: Why Do Babies Twitch?
As a new mother, it is quite obvious to be scared by your baby's eerie twitching! However, rest assured that this is normal.
So don't be scared if you catch your baby twitching in his sleep!
While it was earlier believed that babies twitch in response to the dreams they see when they are sleeping, according to new research, there might be one more explanation for your baby twitching in sleep!
According Professor Mark Blumberg of Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Iowa, a baby's sleep twitches are a good sign as they are linked to their sensorimotor development. Blumberg has been studying the type and pattern of baby twitching for over 20 years now, and he has concluded over this period that baby twitching during sleep is actually NOT random.
When your baby twitches in his sleep, what's actually happening is: your baby's brain is trying to explore the different things his muscles can do! Typically these jerky movements are seen in the limbs of babies. What's interesting to note is that, studying the different aspects of baby twitching while sleeping can give us insight into how babies develop motor skills, which in turn can throw light on developmental disorders such as autism and schiezophrenia.
Isn't that fascinating?
Should You Be Worried?
The simple answer is NO. These movements usually disappear as your baby grows up and do not cause discomfort either. Even hiccups are a kind of jerky movement, strictly speaking! As your baby's nervous system matures over time, the levels of the hormones inducing these movements decrease. Your baby will be just fine in a couple of months/years.
In some rare cases though, jitters and jerkiness can be caused by a neurological condition. If your baby also shows excessive eye rolling, suckling or odd tongue movements, there might be a problem in his neurological health. Do not ignore these signs.
Tips & Precautions To Relieve Jerky Movements In Your Baby
Even though trembling and twitching in babies is usually not dangerous, it still is worrisome for parents. Here are some tips suggested by paediatricians to prevent these occurrences or reduce their effect whenever they occur in your baby:
1. Restrain The Jerking Arm/Leg
If you ever see your baby making these 'jerk' like movements, simply stop them by restraining their jerking limb. Just press their limbs and help them relax. Don't worry; your baby will not feel any discomfort.
2. Distract Your Baby
Sometimes, distracting your baby is the perfect way to help them stop these movements. Whenever you observe your kiddo doing these movements, clap loudly or move them from one position to another. This will take their mind off the current activity.
Swaddling, or wrapping your baby in a wrap/blanket, is a good option to decrease the number of startle responses in your baby and help him relax and sleep better. Use the conventional method of swaddling, following these swaddling precautions while you do it. If required, add motions to it such as cradling your baby, carrying him for a while, or playing some soothing music. Swaddling, movement and sounds together prove to be quite effective in relaxing babies.
4. Use Baby Gyms
Baby gyms are a great way to help build positive activity in babies and help strengthen muscles and voluntary movement. Toys and play activity can also help in motor skill development which has an overall impact in improving your baby's stimulation and coordination.
5. Put Finger In Your Baby's Mouth
If all the above methods don't work, then try the age-old tested alternative. To help stop the quivering, gently bend your baby's limbs and put a soother (or a finger) in your baby's mouth. This will help them calm and relax quicker.
Remember moms, jerky movements in babies are quite common. In most cases, there is nothing to worry about, and these movements slowly fade away as the baby grows up. But if you are worried, or your baby's development, sleep and day-to-day activities seem to getting affected, it is always better to seek medical intervention. Your paediatrician will be able to conduct a full check-up and take your baby's neurological examination, if required.