Babies dream while they sleep
Baby twitches in sleep - training of motor skills
What could be sweeter than a happy, sleeping baby that lies snuggled up in its little bed, arms and legs stretched out in all directions or curled up completely. But wait a minute: wasn't there a twitch? And one more thing? Is it dreaming Is that normal?
Twitching while sleeping is quite normal
As soon as the little tired eyes are closed after a long walk in the fresh air or a wild game in the nursery, your baby starts to twitch completely with arms and legs. It almost looks as if it is dreaming, but the twitching, sometimes also a tremor, doesn't stop at all and keeps on going again and again. Shouldn't your baby be totally tired now, after so many new experiences and impressions? Why does it still make these movements that somehow look very strenuous? As parents, is there anything to worry about? No!
For us parents, this spectacle looks a bit strange, perhaps also worrying, but twitching is common in babies during sleep and can be observed in almost every infant.
Why people twitch while sleeping
Perhaps you know it from yourself, but very few people wake up in the same position in the morning as they fell asleep in the evening. People have many things to process during the night - impressions, experiences, information, acquaintances, challenges, problems and much more. And that starts with the little ones, who learn so much new things every day that it would be almost a miracle if they slept peacefully without a single twitch, tremor or kick. Even when the body allows itself a good portion of relaxation, our brain continues to work at full speed. What exactly happens in the brain when we sleep and dream has not yet been researched, but one thing is certain: twitching and movements during sleep are completely normal.
What the baby's twitching mean
In babies, however, jerks have a slightly different meaning. If you watch your little darling a little while he sleeps, you may see how he carefully tries to reach for something while he sleeps and moves different parts of his body. Every now and then also twitches. Often it is legs, arms, wrists and fingers, but also the head, which is moved back and forth from time to time. Looks pretty cute, doesn't it?
According to the latest research, all of this doesn't just happen to babies because of their dreams. Rather, it explores its limbs and tries out new movements.
If you look closely and observe your baby, you may even be able to see which motor reflexes and skills your baby is learning next. Maybe soon he'll be able to put his foot in his mouth or reach for things like his toys.
How science thinks about baby twitching
These observations are of course very interesting to scientists. For example, they found that infants who wiggled their wrists and fingers back and forth in their sleep began to reach for objects a short time later. Crazy, right?
This is interesting for the researchers because it opens up a whole new definition of how people may learn new things: by sleeping, twitching and moving.
However, the scientific knowledge has another advantage: the type and intensity of the movements could possibly provide information about how the baby is developing. Does it develop according to age? Are there possible developmental delays because they move less intensely than other children?
Questions that may be answered early if the baby is being observed while it is sleeping. So far, however, there is no research on this topic. But it is certainly very exciting for the future.
When the twitching could potentially be dangerous
When the baby twitches in sleep, many parents are often concerned very quickly. Often people talk about pain, injuries or an epileptic seizure right away.
In principle, the baby can also be in pain, but it would most likely also speak up with crying and screaming. The same applies to injuries.
Epilepsy can affect babies too, but very rarely. The disease manifests itself, among other things, by twitching, sudden movements and cramps in various parts of the body. The seizures are usually caused by flickering light, but can also occur while you are sleeping. But, as I said, only very rarely with babies.
One form of epilepsy that can affect babies in the first few months of life is so-called West syndrome (BNS epilepsy). The twitching occurs shortly before falling asleep or a short time after waking up.
If you have the feeling that your child could be affected by epilepsy, you should keep in touch with your pediatrician, because only they can make the correct diagnosis and help you with possible therapy.
Other reasons for a baby's sudden twitching during sleep
Perhaps you have also observed this with your baby: It sleeps very peacefully, maybe babbles a little and all of a sudden it twitches completely uncontrollably, startles, often with hands and legs stretched out and wakes up.
This phenomenon is also called the Moro reflex and describes the process in which the arms are jerkily stretched and the fingers spread and your little darling is often torn from sleep. It is not uncommon for the baby to start crying because it is frightened and has lost its orientation.
However, this reflex is completely harmless and, according to the latest research, may even be very important for the child's development.
When your baby doesn't flinch
After you've read all of this and now you may be thinking in the other direction because you may not have seen your baby twitch while sleeping: The probability that it will move and twitch is very high, so just turn it on watch it for a couple of nights.
And if that's not the case, don't worry here either and if you are unsure, just talk about it the next time you visit the doctor. But always remember: every child is individual. So does his sleep behavior.
Autism is also interesting in this context. People with autism have impaired social and emotional development. Often they are also limited in their sensorimotor skills.
It is now suspected that, since children may train their sensorimotor skills while they sleep, that autistic babies move little or no movement during sleep.
However, this phenomenon has not yet been adequately researched and any statements about it have not yet been proven.
Even if the twitching during sleep and sudden movements can unsettle parents, this is a completely normal phenomenon and can be observed in almost every baby. However, if you are concerned about the twitching while you sleep, let your pediatrician know to make sure.
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