As a parent, you have probably noticed some twitches in your baby’s limbs or facial features as he sleeps. If you do not know what they are all about or if you are a first-time parent, the chances are that you assumed that they are reactions to a dream. While in some cases this might be true, it is not the only reason why your baby twitches in sleep. There is way much more to twitching than you might know.
What is Twitching
While it is easy to tell when your baby twitches by looking at him, describing it is not always easy. But, the simplest or the easiest way to describe twitching is the sudden and involuntary movement of the baby’s limbs or facial expression when he is sleeping. And in most cases, these movements are temporary and easy to miss if you are not staring at the baby.
There are several types of twitches and they include myoclonus, convulsions, muscles spasms, and tremors. However, myoclonus is what many babies will experience as the rest are more common in adults. And it is described as an involuntary movement that will occur when there is a sudden tensing or relaxation of muscles. But, there are more causes of twitching in babies than this.
Causes of Baby Twitches
It is not always easy to pinpoint the causes of twitches in babies because like with adults, the causes might vary from one child to the other. Also, for some babies, they are a result of a combination of various factors. But, the most common causes of baby twitches in sleep include the following four.
Immature Nervous System
Most of the twitching that babies will experience in their sleep is often related to the brain. For the first couple of years of life, the baby’s nervous system will experience various development changes and maturation process. When they are born, babies will have quite immature innate reflexes and this is what results in the overactive behavior that is characterized by quivering, trembling and other reflexes. But, as the nervous system continues to mature, the quivering and jitteriness should start to disappear or occur less frequently.
Developing Motor Skills
According to a sturdy finding by a team of researcher from the University of Iowa, twitching might be a sign that your little one is developing motor skills. The study concludes that the twitching will often occur in the REM stage of sleep. And this is because the brain is sending information to various other parts of the body. This, in turn, helps the child figure out how to use the different parts of the body when awake. For example, twitches in the wrist and fingers are closely related to the infant’s ability to start reaching out for things.
Besides from development of the nervous system and motor skills, hormones like norepinephrine can also be responsible for the sudden flexes or twitches. According to experts, babies with high levels of the hormones are more prone to tremors as this hormone will often function similar to adrenaline. Note that the body releases this hormone in response to the human body adapting to a new environment. And since the baby has a lot of adapting to do, he is more likely to produce a lot of it and hence the twitches
Should Parents be Worried?
NO.There is nothing to worry about as a mom or dad because these twitches tend to disappear as your baby grows up. Also, they will in most instances, not cause any discomfort as the baby will probably not even notice them, and they do not pose any significant health risk. Your baby should be fine in a few months or a couple of years at most. However, it is also important to note that is some very rare cases the twitches can be a result of a neurological condition. And so you also need to watch out for other symptoms like odd tongue movements, suckling or excessive eye rolling.
Baby twitches in sleep are a common thing that many infants will experience in the early days or months of their life. And while in most cases they are nothing to worry about, it is still important to know what they are and what causes them. Also, there are few things that you can do to relieve these jerky movements in babies such as swaddling and distracting the infant or you can soothe the baby by using the vibration of baby pillow. But, in most cases, there is nothing to worry about as the twitches tend to disappear in no time.