Watching a newborn sleep is a precious moment for parents. It is a time when they can cherish their little one’s peacefulness, comfort, and adorable sleeping positions. One of the common sleeping positions of babies is with their arms up.
The Reasons Behind Babies Sleeping with Their Arms Up
A Way of Cooling Down
Babies can’t regulate their body temperature as adults, so they may sleep with their arms up to cool down. When babies feel warm, their arms in the air can help dissipate heat from their bodies. Conversely, babies may keep their hands by side to retain body heat if they feel cold.
A Relaxing Position
Sleeping with their arms up can also be a sign of comfort for babies. As they spend 9 months curled up in the womb, sleeping with their arms up can provide a sense of security and familiarity. It can also indicate that they feel relaxed and comfortable in their environment.
The Moro Reflex
The Moro reflex, or the startle reflex, is a primitive reflex that babies are born with. It usually disappears around 4-5 months of age. The Moro reflex is usually triggered when a baby feels like they are falling, causing them to throw their arms and legs out as if to catch themselves. Sometimes this reflex can be triggered by a loud noise or sudden movement during sleep, causing the baby to sleep with the arms up.
Help with Breathing
The arms-up position opens up the diaphragm and chest, making it easier for babies to take deep breaths. This is especially beneficial for newborns still learning to control their breathing. When you want to take a deep breath, you might find inhaling more efficient while reaching up with your hands.
How to Keep Your Baby Safe While Sleeping with Their Arms Up?
As parents, safety is our top priority for our babies. The AAP(American Academy of Pediatarics) recommends that babies sleep on their backs is the safest position. Pillows, blankets, and other soft objects should be avoided in the sleeping area as they obstruct the baby’s breathing and cause suffocation.
It’s also recommended to prevent bed-sharing and instead use a separate sleep surface, such as a mini crib or bassinet, in the same room as the parents. If you have concerns regarding your baby’s sleep position, it’s always best to consult your pediatrician.
Effects of Sleeping with Arms Above the Head
Sleeping with the arms above their head is a common position for babies, but it can also have some effects on their bodies. Here are some potential consequences of sleeping with arms above the head for babies.
Discomfort and Pain in Shoulders and Neck
When the arms are positioned above the head, the shoulders are elevated, which can pressure the neck muscles. This can lead to neck stiffness or soreness, which can cause discomfort and disrupt the baby’s sleep.
The elevation of the shoulders can cause the airway to narrow, making it harder for the baby to breathe. This can lead to snoring or interrupted breathing during sleep, indicating sleep apnea.
Development of Pressure Points on the Head and Face
Sleeping with arms above the head can cause pressure points to develop on the baby’s head and face. This can result in flat head syndrome or positional Plagiocephaly. This condition occurs when a baby’s head becomes flattened on one side due to constant pressure on that area.
Is it Safe for Babies to Sleep with Their Arms Up?
Sleeping on the Back is Essential
Sleeping with arms up is generally safe for babies, but there are some precautions parents can take to ensure their baby’s safety and comfort. Firstly, it is essential to ensure the baby sleeps on their back. This is the safest sleeping position for infants, as it minimizes the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Firm and Flat Sleeping Surface
Parents should also ensure that the baby’s sleeping surface is firm and flat, with no loose bedding or soft objects around them. This can help prevent suffocation and reduce the risk of SIDS.
Swaddling for Comfort and Security
Parents can try swaddling if the baby consistently sleeps with their arms up and experiences discomfort or disrupted sleep. Swaddling involves wrapping the baby in a thin blanket to mimic the feeling of being in the womb. This can give the baby a sense of security and comfort and prevent them from sleeping with their arms above their head. Look at the following video for the Best Swaddling techniques.
Is It Okay for a Newborn To Sleep With Head to Side?
Sleeping with the head to the side is common among newborns, but it can lead to a flat spot developing on one side of the head. This can be caused by a condition called torticollis, which results in tight neck muscles and is often due to the baby’s positioning in the womb.
To prevent this, parents should limit how much time their baby sleeps on one side and encourage tummy time and holding during the day to improve neck support.
What Age Does the Moro Reflex Disappear?
The Moro Reflex, also called as the startle reflex, typically peaks around 1 month and disappears after 2 months, although it can last up to 4 months post-natal.
Why Do Babies Sleep With Their Legs Up?
It is perfectly normal for newborns to sleep with the legs up in a frog-like position, as it mimics their position in the womb and is how they feel most comfortable. As their bodies develop, they will adopt a straighter leg position.
What is the best sleeping position for a baby after feeding?
Pediatricians recommend placing babies on their backs to sleep after feeding. This position allows for better breathing and poses a minimal risk of suffocation, minimizing the risk of SIDS.
What is the best sleeping position for babies with gas?
After feeding, burp your baby before placing them on their back to sleep. To encourage more comfortable sleep, you can gently massage their belly or slowly cycle their legs toward their stomach like a bicycle while they are on their back.
Babies sleep with their arms up due to the Moro reflex and a sense of comfort and relaxation. While this sleeping position is generally safe, it can cause discomfort and affect breathing.
Parents should ensure that their baby sleeps on their back on a firm and flat surface, with no loose bedding or soft objects around them.