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Why Baby Moves Around In Crib While Sleeping? | Expert Opinion

By Amy A. Vincent | Fact checked by Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP | Updated on July 23, 2022

Many of you have witnessed your kids toss and turn in their beds at night. Nightmares, diseases, or a lack of sleep are the most common causes of uncontrollable movements. Nevertheless, knowing how infants sleep can help you differentiate between common sleep problems and more problematic ones.

Full-term infants spend around half of their sleep time in light sleep when they are born. Infants also have shorter sleep cycles than adults, meaning they are physiologically wired to sleep lighter and wake up more frequently.

However, even though your child looks to be sleeping, they might not be in REM sleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) refers to sleep periods that last longer as the night goes on and are marked by rapid eye movement. When you hold your baby while sleeping, they may move their legs or raise their arms. So, what does it mean if the baby moves around in crib while sleeping? Is this a typical thing or not? Let’s see!

Why Baby Moves Around In Crib While Sleeping

Is it Normal if the Baby Moves Around in Crib While Sleeping?

If your baby is rolling and tossing, sitting up, or turning in their sleep, you must be concerned. Common concerns include whether your kid is having enough sleep, whether their sleep is restorative, whether their blissful sleep indicates an underlying medical problem, or whether they are at risk of harming themselves. On the other hand, moving during sleep is common in many people of all ages, including newborns, toddlers, preschoolers, and even teenagers.

Some children move around a lot in their sleep, but this habit tends to level out once they reach elementary school. Nonetheless, for some experts, restless sleep or anything else that a parent notices could signify a health problem. The child determines the sort of movement and how often it occurs. A baby may sometimes sit up, rub eyes, wiggle limbs, yawn, move around, and then return to sleep.

Understanding the Typical Sleep Cycles

Understanding the Typical Sleep Cycles

For effective functioning, all humans require adequate sleep. Toddlers, in specific, need a significant amount of sleep, with babies and kids under the age of three sleeping more than they are awake. Whether or not the baby moves around in crib while sleeping, there is a lot of activity in the mind and body.

Sleep is a complicated process about which there is still a lot to learn. It is known. However, sleep is essential for substantial growth, healing, relaxation, memory improvement, brain activity, and rejuvenation for people of all ages. Not receiving enough sleep can have negative health effects. Moreover, all kids (and adults) awaken several times per night, typically after each sleep cycle has finished.

Also read: Crib for twins

Typical Sleep Movement Timing

Many parents and caregivers notice that their baby is a restless sleeper on certain nights or at certain times throughout the night. During sleep, little movement is common, such as moving a few times in an hour. Brief twitches, light sleep, and awakenings are common, especially while transitioning between sleep phases. Nighttime restlessness varies in intensity and frequency across individuals, but it is most common in babies, children, and teenagers.

These bursts of energy are, in fact, beneficial and necessary. Changing positions throughout the night is necessary to keep the nerves from becoming squeezed or ‘falling asleep.’ Sleep movement will usually reduce over time. They generally outgrow it. Suppose you have an underlying sleep condition, such as restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, or periodic limb movement disorder. In that case, you won’t be able to outgrow it until the condition is treated.

So, if a guardian or parent finds the baby moves around in crib while sleeping than usual or doesn’t seem to awaken well-rested, it’s a good idea to talk to their doctor or sleep specialist about it.

What Are Sleep Problems’ Potential Symptoms?

While some extent of daily sleep movement is healthy and natural, moving around during sleep can occasionally suggest a health problem. As a result, it’s crucial to keep track of your baby’s sleep patterns.

It’s also worth remembering that sleep issues are frequent in youngsters. In fact, about a third of all children are affected by sleep-wake problems, according to a study. Furthermore, around 25% of children under five have a sleep problem.

The following are signs of sleep problems that could be linked to excessive movement when sleeping:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble waking up
  • Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
  • Breathing issues
  • Excessive movement
  • Irritability
  • Inability to maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle
  • Pain or discomfort in the limbs
  • Frequently waking up in the middle of the night
  • Difficulty staying or falling asleep

What Are the Possible Causes?

There are a number of health issues that might induce more fitful sleeping patterns and need medical attention. So, if you have any worries about your baby’s sleep movement or suspect that an underlying disease is causing their restless sleep, call a healthcare professional to assess their particular sleep troubles and, if required, prescribe a treatment plan.

  • Stress and Other Mental Issues

Stress, worry, and traumatic situations have all been demonstrated to disrupt sleep, leading to increased sleep movement and disrupted sleep. With increased stress and strain, worry, and sadness, insomnia is becoming a major issue for older kids. More tossing and turning could be caused by difficulty falling asleep.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Some sleep problems, including obstructive sleep apnea, which enables breathing to stop and resume during sleep, can produce restlessness. When a child’s breathing is wholly or partially blocked, they may wheeze or gasp as their breathing returns to normal. A shift in position is frequently associated with this.

  • Restless Leg Syndrome

It is another sleep problem that is linked to movement when sleeping. RLS is an unpleasant sensation that happens in the legs, commonly in the evening hours, and is exacerbated by relaxing and sleeping. Moreover, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is a syndrome that causes signs of repetitive limb movement during sleeping.

  • Night Terrors

Night or sleep terrors, which affect children under 12, can also cause restless sleep. During these episodes, kids may roll around, sit up, and awaken in a panicked, agitated, frightened, and disoriented state. Night terrors, while terrifying, are not dangerous, and most children outgrow them.

Also read: How to keep baby’s legs from getting stuck in crib

How Can You Keep a Baby That Bangs His Head on the Crib?

When baby moves around in crib while sleeping, they frequently knock their heads on the crib because they don’t have enough room to move around. It happens to the majority of newborns. Fortunately, we will be able to prevent them from hitting their heads. But remember that any loose blankets, pillows, or other items that could strangle or suffocate the infant should be removed from the baby’s bed.

So, all you have to do now is give your baby time in his crib to understand his boundaries. They finally figure out how to avoid hitting their heads in the cradle. As a mother, it may be difficult to witness them bumping their heads in the crib or even getting knots on their heads, but rest assured that striking their head on the crib will not cause severe issues.

What Should You Look for When Purchasing a Crib?

Consider in mind the following while you prepare the nursery for your newborn.

  • Footprint

A crib should have a broad, well-supported base to avoid collapsing or tipping over.

  • Weight Limit

Many bassinets have a carrying capacity as low as 15 pounds, while the majority can hold up to 20 pounds. If you do not have the crib instructions, move your kid to a crib when she reaches 15 pounds. Most newborns have reached that weight by the time they are 3 to 4 months old.

  • Age

To stay away from new and old cribs manufactured before June 2011. Cribs that are old, antique, or secondhand may be defective or do not satisfy modern safety regulations. Lead paint, broken or splintered slat or wood that are too far apart are all possibilities.

  • Slat Width

Because broader slats can trap baby heads, your crib’s slats and corner posts ought to be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart (approximately the diameter of a soda can). Corner posts must be no more than 1/16 inch taller than the end panels. If you’re purchasing a brand new crib, you probably won’t be worried about this.

  • Condition

There should be no splintered or cracked wood, peeling paint when looking for a used crib. This keeps your baby from ingesting an unwanted yet harmful substance or injuring themselves.

When it comes to putting together your baby’s sleeping quarters, follow the manufacturer’s directions to the mark. You should fasten all brackets, screws, and brackets; there should be no sharp edges, rough areas, or locations that might harm or pinch your kid.

Tips For a Secure Crib Mattress

When it comes to buying a crib mattress, keep these safety precautions in mind:

Mattresses For Cribs Should Be Tight and Fit.

Assemble the mattress so that it fits snuggly against the crib’s inside. If you can put more than two fingers between the crib and the mattress, it does not meet safety regulations. The more complicated it is for you to make your bed, the safer your child will be.

Use a Normal Size Mattress For a Full-Size Crib.

These devices are only tested for safety with the mattresses sold. Suffocation is a possibility with mattress toppers or thicker pads. So, make sure to use what’s best for your baby’s safety.

Use Only the Mattress in Portable Playards and Cribs.

These devices are only tested for safety with the mattresses they are sold with. Suffocation is a possibility with mattress toppers or thicker pads. So, make sure to use what’s best for your baby’s safety.

When Should the Crib Mattress Be Lowered?

Some cribs have adjustable mattress heights so that your baby can grow with them. When an infant is born, keep the mattress at the highest level possible if there is no risk of standing up and getting out of the crib (and if you’ll be going in the most to grasp and put them back). It’ll be time to lower the bed so the baby can’t climb out once they can sit independently (between 4 and 7 months).

How to Help Babies and Kids in Getting a Better Night’s Sleep?

How to Help Babies and Kids in Getting a Better Night's Sleep

First, assess whether or not your baby’s sleep movement is normal. If not, or if you’re unsure, have their healthcare provider evaluate them (and, if needed, treat them). You can also consult a pediatrician or a sleep specialist about why your baby moves around in crib while sleeping. Sleep is likely to become more peaceful if a sleep issue is identified and treated. Additionally, adhering to sleep hygiene suggestions can help children who move during the night enhance the quality of their sleep as well as their safety.

Furthermore, keeping a regular sleep schedule, resting in a cool, dark, distraction-free room, and employing a soothing pre-sleep routine such as taking a bath and reading before bed is just a few recommendations. If a child needs to get up to use the restroom, they can move around. Limiting liquids a few hours before going to bed and making sure your kid uses the restroom shortly before bedtime may help them sleep much better all night.

Please remember the risks of falling out of bed or hitting your head on anything sharp, such as the side table’s corner. It isn’t easy to overstate the significance of secure sleeping. It is optimal for nightly sleep and naps if all newborns and toddlers sleep in their cribs, playpens, or other safe sleeping spaces. For babies ready to move out of the crib, it’s best to use a mattress on the floor, a bed with bed rails, or a size-appropriate toddler bed, all for safety reasons so they do not fall out of bed.

Take Away

While the amount and intensity of movement during sleep varies, it is natural and healthy for babies and children to adjust their body posture from time to time while sleeping. If you see any nightly fitfulness that worries you, you should talk with your child’s healthcare professional. Erratic or excessive movements can be an indication of an underlying problem. Also, remember to take the recommendations listed above for keeping your infant safe in the crib.

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