Babies stretch and move constantly while in utero. As such, when making the journey to be delivered, it is not uncommon for babies to want to stretch their muscles after being in cramped quarters. Something that is easy for babies to do, given that they are so flexible and something they will continue to do as they age. And while stretching in most instances is completely normal, there are times that stretching can be of concern. Because of this, parents need to recognize the difference between the two, so they can seek the advice of a healthcare professional if necessary.
Be it to strengthen their bodies for developmental movement or lengthen out the body because it just feels good, infants like to stretch. In fact, as the bodies begin to rapidly lengthen out, it is not uncommon to see babies stretch their bodies constantly. But when babies appear to be in pain after stretching, there is an obvious problem present. And the sooner that the problem can be remedied, the happier a demeanor a baby will have.
Here is what normal baby stretches are and when stretching might be a concern.
What Constitutes A Baby Stretch
While it is possible for newborns to stretch, parents will not notice babies stretching with any consistency until they are a bit older. And this is because it is not until babies are several weeks old that they have strong enough muscles to do so without getting injured.
According to PregnancyBirth&Baby, when babies are two months old, they have gained enough muscle to be able to effectively stretch their arms and legs. As such, when babies are going through their extreme growth spurts, they are able to stretch their limbs effectively, so that muscle aches can be alleviated. And when aches are alleviated, happier babies result.
What Makes A Good Baby Stretch
Outside of stretching out their growing muscles, babies have other reasons to stretch as well. Most importantly, to do with strengthening muscles.
According to KidsHealth, when babies reach four months old, they are stretching their muscles constantly. This has to do with them getting strong enough for developmental movement. As such, it is not uncommon to see babies suddenly rollover as a result of getting stronger from their stretching.
Babies may also have a big stretch after they wake from a nap. This is because, according to MedicalNewsToday, sleep helps to influence growth. And the better sleep that babies get, the more apt they are to have growth spurts. These growth spurts lead to achy muscles and need to be stretched out upon waking.
When Baby Stretches May Be A Concern
While most baby stretches are normal, there are times when stretching may be a concern.
According to ION Well Child Clinic, many times when babies are in distress from digestive problems, they will let their parents know via stretching. But the stretch will not leave babies happy and content. It may leave them more upset than before stretching commenced.
Some ways, per the publication, that babies communicate issues they are having via stretching include:
- Stretching with a grunt: This is an indication that babies are trying to pass gas or poop and that they are struggling.
- Stretching with an arched back: Indigestion is likely the cause of the stretching and arched back. If babies are not supported during this time, their indigestion can lead to reflux.
- Stops stretching and groaning: When babies no longer stretch and begin groaning, their stretches have not worked to relieve their digestive issues. Speaking with a healthcare professional is recommended if this happens with any frequency.
- Grunting, stretching, and arched back: Babies who do this are dealing with reflux or colic. Speaking with a healthcare professional is recommended to get treatment started for babies so that they are no longer in discomfort.
To know whether babies are stretching and are content or are in pain is easy to tell by their emotions after the stretch. And while in most instances, stretching is harmless, paying attention to how babies react after stretching will give parents a clear indication of babies’ health and whether medical intervention is necessary.