Lately, I have noticed my baby’s legs shake whenever they stretch them. I was confused. Nagging questions were, is it normal? Why do they do this? What are the reasons behind it, if any?
So I probed some, well a lot actually. Stick with me if you are also in the same boat_ an uncertain new mom, whose tiny little ones are in the habit of shaking and stretching those cute legs at the same time_and wants to know the answers.
Why do a baby’s legs shake while stretching?
This question was posed by quite a few mothers in the community group of baby center and so many others have chimed in saying it’s ‘normal’ or that their pediatricians have said so. And who can argue with a doctor? Some of them even think it’s cute.
Let’s see some of the most common reasons why your baby might be doing compound exercises, in this case stretching and shaking their tiny legs.
Babies shake a lot and that is mostly attributed to poor coordination and an immature nervous system. Let’s learn more about it.
Shaking during a particular activity:
Sometimes babies’ legs shake during an activity such as a diaper change, while falling asleep or when they stretch their legs.
There is nothing to worry about, it could be just a habit, something they like doing while they stretch their limbs.
Immature nervous system:
One of the prime reasons babies’ legs shake is an immature nervous system.
The nervous system of newborns is not quite developed yet. As the brain dictates the body to do everything, when it tells a baby to move its legs, the result is usually a shaky jittery movement.
Caffeine in breast milk:
If you have had too much coffee, caffeinated tea, or soda to drink, some of that caffeine is likely to pass into the little one’s body through breast milk causing shaky jittery movements.
Only larger amounts of caffeine can pass on to the baby, 2 to 3 cups are totally fine.
When to see the doctor?
If the baby only shakes the leg at the time of stretching it, it’s probably nothing to worry about.
See a doctor if the leg trembling is accompanied by other signs such as unwellness, lethargy, or difficulty eating.
Shaking can also be a sign of low blood sugar.
Low blood sugar:
Some newborns might have a disorder called ‘neonatal hypoglycemia’, which means they have lower blood sugar or glucose than that required.
Babies that were born to diabetic mothers, were born early or with a serious infection or were larger or smaller than normal gestational age, needed oxygen at the time of birth, and had birth defects are more at risk of having low blood sugar.
How do you know if your baby has low blood sugar?
Babies with low glucose might have the following symptoms.
- pale or blue skin
- Shakiness, tremors, or seizures
- Poor eating
- floppy muscles
- Trouble keeping the body warm
- Weak or high-pitched cry
- Stopping breathing (apnea) or fast breathing
Low blood sugar in newborns is easily treatable.
Why does my baby stiffen up and shake?
Sometimes babies stiffen up and shiver when they are excited or frustrated. It’s like they are flexing and testing their muscles out of those emotions.
Some babies also tend to do it during diaper changes, especially when they don’t like the process. They will stiffen up and jerk, anything to halt it.
That being said, shaking, sometimes, could also indicate a serious condition such as infantile spasms or drug withdrawal.
Is it normal for babies to shake when they stretch?
As seen above, it is absolutely normal for a baby’s legs to shake due to a developing nervous system. The little ones are developing reflexes and fine motor skills, and as a result, their movements are often uncontrolled and jittery.
The breastfed babies might also be doing it because the mommy has had too much caffeine to drink.
And as discussed, it could be because they enjoy doing it at a particular time such as stretching. Your babies will likely outgrow these movements.
In a nutshell…
Most of the time, the shaking and twitching are harmless and babies outgrow them.
Shaky movements in babies are also often associated with neurological disorders but bear in mind that these cases are not common.
Unless there are other symptoms accompanying those shakes, they are completely normal, and a part of the natural growth of muscles and motor skills.
Also, if your baby shakes their legs only while stretching them and at no other time, then likely there is nothing to worry about.
Next time your baby does it, hold their legs and the tremors should stop. If not, then have your little one evaluated by a physician.
Why Does my newborn’s Leg Shake?
The leg shaking in newborns is quite normal and just one of the many movements as a consequence of their immature nervous system.
The breastfeeding babies might also have shaky legs if the mom had caffeine a few hours before breastfeeding.
What is infant shudder syndrome?
Infant shudder attack syndrome is a shuddering spell that is not dangerous and eventually recedes by the age of 2 to 3 years.
It is uncommon and a spell may last 5 seconds or more and can occur as much as 100 times a day. After the attack is over, your baby will be back to normal, completely fine.
So if your baby does odd jittery, squirmy, and jerky moves, don’t freak out, it’s probably just infant shudder syndrome at play.
What are the signs to look for in neurological symptoms in infants?
A neurological disorder is a disorder of the brain, nervous system, or muscle cells. Some babies are born with it, while some develop it later in life as a result of injury or serious infection.
Be on the lookout for abnormal movements, rapid change in head size or tender spots, extreme fussiness, difficulty feeding, change in muscle tone, seizures, floppiness, or changed muscle tones.
What does Hypertonia look like in babies?
Hypertonia is too much muscle tone in your baby. Muscle tone is the friction to movement in the muscles.
So too much muscle tone means lots of friction to the movements resulting in stiff muscles and robotic moves as those muscles are not able to relax.
Hypertonic children will have stiff limbs, trouble walking, a hard time reaching out and grabbing objects, and poor balance.