The baby shudders in a dream: why is this happening?

Newborns sleep almost all the time. This is how nature took care of the growth and development of their body, nervous system. After all, it is known that children grow up in a dream. But often mothers notice that their sleeping baby shudders, which is why he often wakes up and even cries. Is this normal or should the parents show it to the doctor? Let’s see why a newborn baby flinches in a dream and when it is worth sounding the alarm.

Influence of sleep phase on newborn behavior

The sleep of any person, regardless of age, is divided into 2 phases:

slow phase (deep sleep);

fast (superficial sleep).

During the deep phase, a newborn baby, like an adult, sleeps well, does not move and does not dream. The superficial phase is an active period, accompanied by dreams, the child tosses and turns, raises arms and legs, can twitch in a dream, parents may even hear snoring. In infants, the slow phase is quickly replaced by a stage of active sleep, which accounts for 50% of the time of the entire cycle. Therefore, sleeping babies are often restless, causing impressionable moms to panic.

Causes of flinching

There are many reasons for startle in a dream in children under one year old, and in most cases they are completely harmless and should not frighten parents.


The baby’s body is just getting used to independent life. During feeding, he may swallow too much air, which, entering the gastrointestinal tract, can cause spasms in it, causing discomfort and pain to the baby. In medicine, this phenomenon is usually called colic. At such moments, a two-month-old baby screams, bends his legs, twitches, bends. In just a few months, his digestive system will adapt to independent nutrition and the colic will disappear.

Increased muscle tone

Not so long ago, the baby was in the embryo position in the mother’s tummy. And now the time has come for his muscles to come to a physiological state. Newborns constantly move their limbs involuntarily, since they do not know how to control them yet. It can also happen while he is sleeping. In the absence of violations, the increased tone will pass by the age of three months.

Fatigue and overexcitement

At first glance, it seems strange that the baby gets tired, because he sleeps almost all the time. But do not forget that the child is just beginning to get acquainted with the new world, to which he has yet to get used to, and the excess of information he receives causes stress in the child. It is not surprising that when falling asleep, the baby can shudder. To prevent this from happening, pediatricians recommend not overloading him with games or another portion of information before laying down. This reason for the flinches is most relevant for a one-year-old child who actively learns the world.

Defecation or urination

For a newborn, this is a rather serious work, during which, if he sleeps, shudders are possible.


It is generally accepted that a month-old baby does not hear anything during sleep. However, it is not. He will not react to familiar or monotonous sounds (washing machine operation, parents talking, etc.), but the baby will shudder from a loud knock behind the wall in a dream. Some especially sensitive children flinch in their sleep from every rustle and even from their mother’s touch.


It turns out that a newborn can also dream, although they differ from adults. Due to the frequent transition between sleep stages, they are short-lived, and when the phases change, the baby can flinch, sigh, tremble, make grimaces and even squeak softly.

Handles interfere

The baby has not yet learned to control his hands, and can wake himself up by sharply waving them and shuddering at the same time. In the womb, the baby is used to resting his limbs against the walls of the fetal bladder with every movement, and in the open space, the swings are too sharp.

Possible deviations

If a newborn often twitches, cries, or has seizures in his sleep, parents need to pay attention to this. Sometimes the reasons for a sleeping baby twitching and waving their arms are not so harmless. These include:

High intracranial pressure, which can be a genetic predisposition, the result of a birth injury, or a sign of dangerous brain damage. To exclude this factor, the pediatrician will prescribe neurosonography .

Deficiency in the child’s body of calcium or vitamin D. This means that the child may develop rickets. The manifestations of the disease include disproportionate development of the head, excessive sweating, flinching, from which the child can wake up.

Arousal syndrome usually occurs as a result of a birth injury. In newborns, this is manifested by frequent crying for no apparent reason, shuddering when falling asleep.

SARS or other viral disease, during which the body temperature rises, tremors are observed.

You need to immediately show your child to a doctor if:

the baby shudders for a long time and rhythmically;

frequent regurgitation is observed;

the baby does not sleep well for several days;

at night, the baby shudders in a dream and wakes up crying more than 10 times; 

convulsions began.

Such manifestations may indicate the development of serious pathologies.

What to do for parents

In most cases, there is nothing wrong with the baby’s twitching. This is just a physiological feature of babies that will disappear over time. But not every mother will be able to calmly look at how involuntary movements with her hands prevent her baby from sleeping. Knowing why this happens, you can eliminate the causes of discomfort, which will help make the baby’s rest more calm, and the mother will get up less often at night. Pediatricians give the following recommendations:

Avoid physical or psycho-emotional overstrain of the child. The period of wakefulness in newborns should not exceed 1 hour, after which the baby should be helped to fall asleep. To do this, you can wear it on handles, swing it in the crib or sing a quiet lullaby.

To cope with involuntary shudders that can wake up or even frighten a child, you can swaddle. Sometimes this is the only available way to help your baby sleep soundly without waking up every 10 minutes.

Many mothers do not want to swaddle their newborns, because this “grandmother’s” method seems outdated to them, or they simply cannot do it right. A good solution is a special cocoon diaper with Velcro or fasteners, in which the baby will feel comfortable and safe, almost like in the mother’s tummy.

Baby clothes, including diapers, should be soft and comfortable.

Sound sleep is possible only in a room where the air temperature does not exceed 20 degrees. Before laying the baby down, the room must be ventilated. In winter, you can put wet diapers on the batteries so that the air does not dry out, or you can purchase a special humidifier.

For some children, lying on the tummy helps. Being in this position, the baby will not be able to actively jerk his hands and wake himself up.

To relieve excessive stress of the baby, you should bathe it in water with the addition of a decoction of soothing herbs: peppermint, lavender, valerian, oregano, as well as sedative collection No. 2, which includes motherwort, mint, valerian, hops and licorice. It is a great help for increased muscle tone. Also, in such cases, light massage helps. 

Important! Oregano and mint have a pronounced sedative and analgesic effect, but can cause allergies in babies prone to it.

It is important to eliminate sources of bright light or loud sounds.

When a newborn is tormented by colic, the mother can stroke his tummy clockwise, apply a warm diaper to it or give dill water to drink, which copes well with increased gas production in babies and is absolutely safe for them. After breastfeeding, remember to hold the baby up . 

The emotional state of the mother is equally important. Doctors are sure that newborns are perfectly aware of their mother’s mood, and if she is upset, then they also show anxiety, which in a sleeping state results in shudders.

Change your diaper in time. With a full diaper, the baby may experience discomfort or even painful sensations if the skin becomes irritated.


If a newborn child is developing well, gaining weight and the doctors did not find anything dangerous in his condition, then the night twitching should not frighten the parents. After all, even adults can shudder when falling asleep. Soon the baby will grow up, and such involuntary movements will bother him less often.

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