Why is my baby arching back? 7 Reasons You Must Know

(Last Updated On: June 29, 2019)

If you are a parent, then you probably have noticed by now that your little one sometimes arches his or her back. This can mean a number of different things and, luckily, it usually indicates some minor problems with your baby or a general discomfort.

I know how I felt the first time my baby started arching back and crying. I was completely scared because I didn’t know what was happening.

I suspected a bunch of reasons such as developmental delay, or even autism.

After some research and consultation with our family doctor I found out why babies tend to arch their backs. That is why I have decided to write this article. Baby arching back in sleep? If you are a parent or soon-to-be parent, inform yourself so you’ll know what to expect or what to do.

What Is It Like When Baby Is Arching Back in Sleep?

If you have never seen a baby throwing himself back then you will probably have a hard time picturing it. And believe me, it can be pretty unnerving to see baby arching like that.

Your baby will probably arch his lower back backward while simultaneously reaching up with his hands.

Baby’s head will go all the way back because he will also push his neck back as far as it goes. I don’t have to tell you how dangerous this can be. This position is everything but natural, and if a baby happens to be in your arms, he could slip, fall down and hurt himself.

While talking to other parents and our family doctor, I found out that babies don’t usually arch their back until they are around six months old.

By the time they reach nine months, your baby will be able to express discomfort, emotions, and displeasure by arching his back.

Sometimes, this can represent ordinary body language, but sometimes it can indicate more complicated and serious problems. Both physically and mentally.

This leads us to the most important question.

Why Do Babies Arch Their Backs?

If your baby is arching his or her back, it can mean different things. Let’s start off with the harmless causes.


Since newborn babies can’t talk they have to resort to other ways of communicating with their parents and world around them. Sometimes they will arch their backs in order to express that something isn’t right.

They can feel anger, pain, frustration or similar emotions. Just like everybody else, they can get upset about simple things such as a boring toy, full diaper or unwanted changes in their meals.


Babies can easily get tired after playing session or after breastfeeding. Your baby can arch his back in order to communicate you that they are only tired. The best way to avoid this is to look for prior signs of tiredness and acting on them appropriately.

Now we move to some more complicated and serious problems related to this topic.

Gastroesophageal Reflux – Bending Back After Feeding

If your newborn baby arches back right after feeding it might indicate that there is something wrong with the baby’s stomach. Gastroesophageal Reflux is a condition caused by weak stomach muscles. What happens is that the contents of the stomach are pushed back upwards, and they enter the esophagus.

Best ways to avoid this problem

  • Keep your baby in the upright position after feeding
  • Feed your baby small meals and feed him often
  • Avoid tight clothes
  • Don’t put your baby to sleep after feeding

Sleeping With Head Arched Back

You might find your baby sleeping with head arched back in somewhat unnatural position. If you try to adjust the position and the baby positions himself back into the arched position, or if he wakes up and starts crying, this might indicate obstructive sleep apnea. If your baby does this while sleeping or napping, contact your pediatrician.

Bending Back When Sitting

If your baby arches his back while sitting, this could mean that there is some kind of a nerve injury caused by something after birth or premature birth. If you had a difficult delivery, your baby’s nerves might be damaged.
Sometimes your baby might arch his back during teething. This is due to the irritation of the nerves within the gums. This pain can quickly spread to other parts of the head, and your baby might react by arching his back.

Cerebral Palsy

If your baby arches his back during this condition, he does it involuntarily. If you notice that your baby is throwing his back often and if it seems that he can’t control it, it might be the early indicator of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is caused by a damaged part of the brain responsible for motor movements.

What Should You Do to stop baby arching back?

There are some simple steps to follow in order to help your baby in this situation, be it a severe or normal condition.

The most important thing to remember is that you need to stay relaxed and calm.

  • Try to calm down your baby
  • Take your baby to a good lit room without distractions and noises
  • Use the oldest trick in the book and try to divert the baby’s attention
  • Pick your baby up, position him upright on your chest and cuddle him
  • Always use comfortable clothes
  • If your baby arches only in crib, try placing him on a different kind of surface and see what happens

Remember To Stay Calm

If you spiral down in a panic mode, the situation will only get worse. Your baby can’t communicate with words and he can’t tell you what exactly is wrong. Don’t be like me and assume the worst. Keep your head cool, try some of this simple actions and wait for results. If nothing seems to help baby arching back, bring your baby to a doctor. Just remember, stay cool, stay calm, you got this.

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