Baby Arching Back When Lying Down or Sleeping – 6 Ways to Help baby in Distress

Things to do Before You See the Doctor

Story Highlights
  • Babies cannot communicate with words, they use back arching when lying down as a means to express their annoyance or anger

As a new parent, you will certainly be faced with a lot of challenges attempting to comprehend what your newborn demands, especially baby arching back when lying down. Since babies don’t know how to express themselves, it is only natural to worry about them, so you need to figure out every little thing yourself.

Pain or discomfort is a condition that makes infants arch their back. As a parent, this will prompt you to ask – why is my baby sobbing? Why is he not sleeping deep? Why is he so hot? Why is my baby sneezing? Why is my baby arching back when lying down?

We’re not going to let you fight this battle alone. Just relax, it’s okay – breath, mama. We’re here to assist you to find a solution.

Why Does my baby arch her back when lying down?

The answer to this question is simple – infants arch their backs for different reasons, from the severe to simple reasons. Baby arching back when lying down for children could be just a natural response to mother nature, either to express his discomfort, fatigue, or other feelings.

It could be something major like a delayed physical and also mental development. To figure out more exact reasons and how to deal with back arches, keep reading.

Should I worry when my baby arches his back when lying down or Held?

For the fact you are reading this post, there are enough reasons to show you are worried about your baby. Not every back-arching requires you to panic, and certainly, not all are to be taken lightly.

The below reasons should help you understand why your baby arches his back when lying down, held or in sleep.

baby arching back

Causes of Back Arching in children

At this junction, we’re going to look at the possibilities of what’s causing baby arching back when lying down. First, we are going to look at a less serious or minor case. After that, we’ll dive into some more severe cases.

Minor Reason for Back Arching in children

1. Interaction.

Babies often communicate using physical signs to let you know when something is bothering them. Since they are unable to talk and communicate their needs. Sometimes when children are upset, worn out, or hungry, they simple arch their back as a way to communicate with you and to pass down their message.

A typical example is when a is baby crying and arching, then you decided to address his/her needs such as feeding, re-positioning, changing diapers, or distraction. Out of the blues, you will notice the arching and weeping stop quickly.

2 Reflux

Babies can arch their backs in order to keep their food down. A lot of times, children do have a problem with keeping down their food and spit it back up instantly after feeding. When this happens almost every time it causes a lot of distress to the baby.

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Illness) is a major type of Acid reflux. With GERD, your baby back arching when lying down is accompanied by discomfort and pain when lying flat on one’s back. In babies, GERD is caused by an underdeveloped lower sphincter.

Babies can overcome acid reflux and keeps down their meals, only when their lower sphincter develops as the child grows. Therefore, kids may continue to arch their backs in order to stretch out their esophagus to prevent acid reflux. GERD may sometimes require medications to decrease or relieve symptoms.

3. Colic.

A lot of parents know about colic, but nobody wants to deal with it. Colic could be the cause – If your baby cries for extended periods for no obvious reason, draws their legs up to their stomach, squeezes their clenched fist, or arches their back while weeping.

The reason for it is still unknown. Some theories say colic could be caused by gas or bad digestion, an immature nervous system, or a profound temperament. The issue here is nobody seems to know what causes it. Colic clears up on its own when your child is around three to four months old. That’s good news!

4. Discomfort.

Baby clothing, diaper or even the bedsheet could easily cause discomfort. Hot room temperature levels could also be reason baby arching back when lying down. When babies are not comfy when held or resting, they tend to wiggle and arch their backs. It depends on you as a parent to decipher the reason for the discomfort.

Baby Arching Back When Lying Down

5. Rolling Over.

At the age of 4 to 6 months, babies at the stage certainly would not want to remain on one position, they have started to rolling over as well as changing positions hence practicing their remarkable newfound capabilities. Baby arching back when lying down while trying to roll over on their stomachs.

Much More Severe Causes.

1. Kernicterus.

A rare type of mental retardation that can occur in babies suffering from severe jaundice is known as Kernicterus. Involuntary muscle spasms resulting in the baby arching back when lying down is one of the signs and symptoms.

In about 3 out of every 5 newborns, Jaundice is fairly a common occurrence. In some unusual situations, the bilirubin levels get much more than usual and do not go down on their own or with therapy, and it is in these situations that kernicterus becomes a source of concern.

Photo-therapy and formula for hydration is the treatment for Jaundice. However, kernicterus is an emergency often calling for an exchange transfusion, where the infant’s blood is exchanged with healthy blood, to remove the bilirubin.

2. Sleeping Apnea.

You may have noticed your baby arching back when lying down, held or sleeping? And either wakes up crying or move back into an arched position, when you attempt to move them to a different position, sleep apnea could be the problem. Your baby is dealing with an abnormal pattern of breathing during a nap.

Babies sometimes arch their backs while sleeping when they have sleep apnea. This makes breathing much easier while they sleep, as the setting helps to open up their airways.

3. Juvenile Spasms.

Kids under one-year-old suffer a rare seizure disorder called childhood spasms. In some instances, juvenile spasms begin as early as 4 months, they can start earlier, or even as late as two years old, in rare cases.

Childish spasms have a way of covering up, making it hard for parents to detect and doctors to give a diagnosis. Juvenile spasms do not usually come with generalized convulsions, unlike more traditional seizure disorders.

Even with medication, these seizures are really tough to control. Children are at a greater risk for developmental delays, when faced with this problem. The earlier it is discovered, the better for the child. Children with juvenile spams are treated with antiepileptic medications.

4. Autism with Series of Conditions

Kids with autism have problems connecting to others and also developing social bonds, even to his closest set of people. Kids with these conditions have difficulties reading facial expressions and signs.

Autism in its early stage could cause baby arching back when lying down or held, and tries getting away from you. In this instance, it would certainly be to stay of physical contact. Poor eye contact, not smiling, and delayed speech-language development are some of the early signs of autism that you should watch out for as your baby grows.

5. Cerebral Paralysis

Is your baby arching baby when lying down and not able to control it? A group of disorders affecting an individual’s capability to move and control his movements is referred to as cerebral paralysis. During pregnancy or soon after birth, brain damage may occur leading to this condition.

Some of the earliest signs of cerebral palsy or paralysis in babies are; stretching of legs, and bending arms, the persistence of the tonic labyrinthine reflex, baby continuous arching their back and tilting their head.

These conditions could be normal in the first few months of the baby’s life. A neurologic disorder should be considered when the baby’s back arching is frequent or severe, with signs of developmental delay.

What to do when baby arching back when lying down?

The conditions that warrant a baby arching back when lying down deserve looking into. Sometimes, this may not indicate a serious problem. However, back arching in babies shouldn’t be ignored.

The below approaches are wats you can easily help your child to be at ease:

Find the ideal position for your kid:

It is ideal to place your back on a flat surface where her back is supported, like on a bed or a sofa. To lowers the likelihood of food being regurgitated, place your baby upright while feeding. Some particular kinds of beds or sofas may tend to arch your kid’s back, try as much as you can to change their resting surface.


Whatever the case may be, never neglect your baby. Make them happy by bathing them with love and affection. Frustration or anger has a slim chance to make children arch their back when they feel relaxed. Kids might not like to be cuddled or held way too much especially those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Covering the baby:

Babies need space and do not like being restricted, a soft, comfy garment is appropriate. Tight clothes can exert stress on the belly, resulting in acid reflux. The texture of your baby’s fabric or tags on clothing might annoy your baby, so take note of her behavior. Wear your baby clothing that matches the weather; airy cotton as well as linens for the summer season and sumptuous woolen garments for the winter season.

Avoid overfeeding:

Provide your child little quantity of food to prevent a bloated stomach as well as acid reflux. Don’t overfeed your child. After feeding your baby, it is not proper to put her down for nap immediately –  cuddle the baby, carry them around and play with them for an hour before putting them to bed.

Relax your Baby

The likelihood of baby arching back when lying down due to stress can be reduced by providing comfort to your baby. kids have delicate feelings and easily get agitated, and even the slightest alterations can change their mood. Approaches like talking with baby gently, play soothing music, give them cozy bathrooms or rock them in your arms, helps a lot.

Your heartbeat can do the trick, hold your baby near to your chest so that they could hear it beats. The heart makes a gentle sound, this will certainly assist them to relax and feel comfy.

Distract your baby:

To stop your baby arching back when lying down, this approach is one of the most effective methods. Use a task or game to divert her attention in the direction of something enjoyable. This is a sure method of getting them to stop, especially for those whose back arching is rooted in emotional distress.

When to see the physician?

After experiencing the above-mentioned steps and also you have done all you can, but the child is still restless, adult instincts will possibly tell you to see the physician fast.

If your child back arching is due to autism, cerebral paralysis or other severe problem that has been discussed in the cause of this write-up, it is essential to see the physician.

Various other reasons such as sleep apnea might not necessarily require the physician’s attention as they might naturally solve themselves after a few years as the child grows.

baby arching back when lying down
Image from Mom junction


Babies have lots of reasons to arch their backs. As they cannot communicate with words, baby arching back when lying down is a means they use to express their annoyance or anger. Taking care of a baby comes with difficulties, being anxious or tense wouldn’t help either. So do not panic!

Let us know how we can be of help to you at the comment section.

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