why does my baby arch his back?

why does my baby arch his back?

Some babies arch their back. Your baby tenses the extensor muscles in his back for a long time, stretches his arms, and presses his head back into his neck.

Why does your baby arch his back? What are the consequences of back arching and what can you do about it?

why does my baby arch his back?

What is back arching?

Sometimes you will see your baby lie tense in a reclined position. He tightens his back muscles vigorously, stretches his arms, and lays his head back on his neck. This happens involuntarily. We call it back arching.

Seeing your baby arch his back can make you feel uncomfortable. It is difficult for your baby to relax because the extensor muscles in his back are constantly tightened.

Your child does not want this, but cannot yet direct itself to get out of this position. This causes stress and your little one may cry a lot. Back arching often occurs in crying babies.

Possible causes of back arching

It is difficult to determine what exactly is the reason that your child is back arching. Often it is your baby’s reaction to negative stimuli, such as pain, crying, or stress. But also noise, bright light, lots of toys, or a loud environment can also cause your baby to tighten his back muscles.

Other reasons for back arching:

  • Your baby is picked up and put down too often.
  • Your baby regularly changes position, for example, because you carry him on your arm in a different way each time.
  • Your baby was born prematurely. He has had too much space in the womb and therefore has not been able to train his muscles well enough.
  • Your child is naturally irritable and restless, or has become so due to lack of sleep and crying a lot.
  • Your baby has a cow milk allergy. Back arching often occurs in children with a cow milk allergy, because they do not feel comfortable due to the complaints of the allergy.
  • Your baby suffers from another physical complaint, such as colic or reflux.
  • Your baby has experienced stress during the delivery, for example, because it took a long time or because there were complications.

Consequences of back arching

Many babies arch their back while crying. This is not an immediate cause for concern. However, if your child arches his back often, it can cause him to lag behind in his motor skills. He trains the wrong muscles and, by back arching, builds up a lot of tension in muscles that should not be nearly as strong.

The abdominal muscles, on the other hand, are not given enough opportunity to be exercised.

Bending is also necessary for proper development. Just think of the curved arms with which your child brings objects with his own hands to his mouth and discovers objects in front of his face. Learning to roll over is also difficult if the back is always stretched back.Back arching can put your baby in a vicious cycle.

Your child expresses his displeasure about something by tightening his back muscles. Then he starts to cry because the back arching position is uncomfortable. This makes him even more restless and he starts to arch his back even more.

As a result, he sleeps poorly and eats less, after which his mood worsens.

What can you do when to prevent your baby arching his back?

If the back arching persists or happens very often, you can visit a pediatric physiotherapist. However, this is not always necessary. You can also do a lot yourself to prevent or stop the back arching.

Some tips:

  • Investigate the cause of the back arching. Are there too many stimuli in his environment? Or maybe he has a physical complaint?
  • Take care of your baby at a leisurely pace. Move calmly during nursing so that your baby can monitor what you are doing and is not startled or agitated by sudden movements.
  • Provide peace and regularity. Alternate busy visiting days with times when you are alone with your baby.
  • Getting enough sleep is important. Try to recognize signs of fatigue and put your child to bed immediately if he gets tired.
  • Place your baby on his stomach regularly. This can be done, for example, after changing. In this way, he is stimulated to consciously use his back and neck muscles.
  • Encourage versatile movements. See if you can let your baby move left and right while playing. It can help to hang some toys above his body so that there is something to discover.
  • Aim for a round pose. Encourage your baby to flex his back muscles in a round position (opposite to a straight position). You can do this by placing him in a beanbag, on a pillow, or in a hammock.
  • Alternate positions on your lap. For example, have your baby lie face to you on your thighs while your feet rest on an elevation. Or put your baby a little between your legs, supporting his shoulders and back with one leg.

Conclusion: why does my baby arch his back?

There are many reasons why but most of them need to be taken seriously, and you should contact a doctor, like described below.

If nothing helps…

If your baby continues to arch his back, you can contact your doctor. This can help you determine the cause of the back arching. He also gives tips on postures, ways of picking up and carrying, and how to relax.

You can also request a referral to a pediatrician or pediatric physiotherapist.

This article is not medical advice, if you are in doubt you should always contact a doctor.