Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some Babies Just Fidget

I have mentioned before that we had a very fidgety baby. It's been a while sinced I talked about it. Although she is still pretty fidgety, at her currently toddler stage it seems more normal and has in many ways translated into bigger, general movements, like climbing.

But I still get a ton of search hits that have to do with baby fidgeting or flailing while sleeping or nursing. Some people stay around and read a bit, and I hope they get what they need from the posts I wrote specifically about this topic hoping that others realize they are not alone. Most people don't stay at all, and I figure they are probably looking for medical reasons why babies fidget (like I would).

Then I got this comment, which does indeed show that people are looking for medical reason. Anonymous said that she wasn't sure if the Pumpkin's fidgets were as severe are her 3.5 month old. Well anonymous, I can't be positive since I haven't seen your child, but at some points they were as bad as you describe. There was a range from little fidgets to oh-my-goodness-what-is-wrong-with-my-baby fidgets. Some were very violent both while sleeping and while nursing, and Londo and I were so worried at times that we would call up the doctor and talk to her about it.

I also searched online and in books for medical reasons why a baby might fidget and talked those reasons over with the doctor.

I found that when a baby has trouble settling to sleep and arches her/his back violently while nursing, these can be signs of GERD, or severe acid reflux. This is usually accompanied by other symptoms, and if someone suspects this I suggest they not only look up GERD online but talk to their doctor about the likelihood that this is the issue. I also suggest you think about silent reflux, as that might be the cause. Our doctor did not believe that the Pumpkin had this issue, since none of the other symptoms were there.

The other major cause of this fidgety/squirmy/flailing in babies (especially when asleep) is gas. Some babies are just more gassy than others. Even if you don't hear all that gas come out, the gas bubbles could be working their way through the baby's system. As my doctor said, babies are not born with their systems fully formed. Right around 3-4 months is when the digestive system is really working out the worst of the kinks. Our doctor believed that this is what was happening with the Pumpkin.

The treatment? Time.

Isn't that the worst answer? And yet, I can attest that over the last 16 months of the Pumpkin's life, it has really gotten a lot better. She does go through gassy periods, and she goes through sleep regressions, but she's healthy and happy. Since she's been able to move more and more on her own, she's (and we've) able to deal with her fidgeting better.

Another "medical" condition that we think might affect the Pumpkin's fidgetiness (I made that up! Like it?) is teething. Our little one seems to fidget A LOT as her teeth are moving their way through the gums. I imagine she is in discomfort and trying to either find a comfortable place to be or distract herself. Her teething is always worse at night, and she did get her first tooth around 4 months.

And my last reason for why babies fidget...

Some babies just fidget. I'm sorry if that's not the answer you are looking for, but it's the truth. Just like some people are fidgeters (my husband is an example) and others are not (I'm not). Babies are just little people. But they can't control their bodies as well, so this is likely why their fidgeting takes on the epic, flailing proportions that it does.

The swaddled helped us. The swing helped us. Constant moving on our parts helped assauge her need to move and fidget until she could do more on her own. This meant lots of walking and rocking and jiggling and whatever else would work. It was NOT easy to go through, but there is not much you can do about it. I kept hoping that the doctor would say "Oh, sure! Your baby has X, and you can treat it with Y and everything will be fine." No such luck.

I do believe that this aspect of my daughter's personality translated into her early gross motor skills and possibly her fine motor skills. Her need to move constantly propelled her into early crawling and early walking and now her constant climbing. This is a really neat aspect of her, one that has been fun to watch develop.

But she does still fidget. I wouldn't dream of cutting my hair at this point, because she uses my hair as her main fidget while nursing or trying to fall alseep. I can put up with that, if it helps her calm down. I've tried to switch her to a toy or blanket--it's not the same. But that's okay, because it's not nearly as bad as it used to be. She still has trouble getting comfy, which includes fidgeting, flailing and even violently pushing and kicking. We are nowhere close to being able to put her down "drowsy but awake." But I've been assured that she will eventually be able to go to sleep on her own. Like when she goes to college. I hope.


BisBink said...

To fall asleep, the Main Man must be holding the tag of his favorite blanket. He fidgets and plays with it, usually rubbing it on his face, until he falls asleep.

Becoming Mommy said...

normally the Taggie works for us too, but Sasha is a wild sleeper. He talks in his sleep, sits bolt up, acts like he's going somewher, but just flops over in a dead sleep.

Poor kid is going to be a somnambulist, I think. Like Mommy.

Karen said...

And sometimes there are no reasons. It's incredibly frustrating to be told to "wait", isn't it? And yet sometimes that's all you can do. And look at Pumpkin-there's not a thing wrong with that active little girl.

Jan said...

So if I were you, as your Pumpkin gets older, I'd keep an eye out for any Sensory Integration issues that might come up, particularly tactile ones. Fidgeting can be a form of self-stimulation.

It does sound like your hair is kind of a transition object for your daughter. Cute. :)

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that one of the great things about the internet is being able to find others in the same situation.

It doesn't apply to me, fortunately. Our little one does seem to think that she is Houdini though, squirming her way out of any swaddle.

Cloud said...

My Pumpkin has always been a fidgety nurser. She twirls my hair, squirms around... and lately, she has taken to kicking me, but that is more when she is "playing" as she finishes nursing. She is also a very "active" sleeper. I never worried about it, but it doesn't sound like she was as fidgety as your Pumpkin. Also, I knew that I had been a very active sleeper as a baby. We have a funny picture of me and my (older) sister napping. My sister is lying as you normally would on the bed. I am sprawled out cross-wise, with my feet draped across her neck.

Pumpkin also goes in and out of preferred bedtime routines Some times she can't sleep unless one of us rocks her to sleep. Other times, she points at the crib and wants to be put down to go to sleep on her own (but with a parent standing and watching). It will be nice when she can tell us what she wants so that we aren't guessing!

Anonymous said...

We had to physically restrain our daughter from moving every _single_ night for 2 years while rocking her to sleep. She's 3.5 now and she sleeps in a full size bed and goes to sleep after books. It does get better and easier.

Burgh Baby said...

She'll go to sleep on her own . . . eventually.

sheSaid.purplehouseonpearl.com said...

fidgitieness :)

I am the transitional object too.... my eyes, my mouth, my arms, my other nipple. He like to touch and grab and twist and scratch everything. Sometimes his feet get in on it too. I have to throw my leg over his and lightly pin him down to help him calm down and sleep.

As for sleeping positions... he ends up sideways in the bed most nights, pushing both of us off the bed, nursing upside down while kicking DH in the face... the fun!

Colleen said...

Gavin fidgets a lot...less than it used to be, but he wiggled around a lot and is a very active sleeper. Every night I check on him, not just to make sure he's covered for the night, but because he might be sideways in his bed, with limbs hanging off. THankfully he's a solid sleeper, too, so when I straighten him out, he doesn't seem to notice.

Cooper is a little less fidgety, but does either play with my hair (well, before I chopped it), or his satin blanket while settling down. He's also an overall less active child than Gavin was, so it might just be related to her personal energy level.

But it will get better.

Shellie said...

So true!

Kdiaz said...

I cannot believe it, it sounds like you are describing my daughter EXACTLY! I have been searching for answers for a while now and am glad I stumbled upon your blog!
My DD is almost 21 months now, but it all started with the massive amount of hiccups in the womb. My doctor said it was normal.
Then from day one she did the back arching and screaming during nursing and CONSTANTLY cranky. The doctor diagnosed it as GERD and prescribed Zantac. Which did nothing. Elevating one side of the crib mattress so that my DDs head was elevated while sleeping helped more. This worked well enough so that she could actually get more that 1 hour of sleep at a time.
At about 2 months old, My DD started having incredibly painful gas. Which our doctor convinced me it was just lactose intolerance. So we switched to the special formula, which helped a little, but not a lot.
Her entire life she has been fidgety, both awake and asleep, especially right before she falls asleep and then her movements almost become jerky. She has also always been incredibly temperamental. I just brushed it off as teething for awhile, but she has a mouth full of teeth now and is still very irritable.
Also, very similar to your Pumpkin, my DD started rolling over, crawling, cruising, and climbing at an early age. I am VERY intrigued now as to if there is some connection of everything: the acid reflux, gas (or lactose intolerance), fidgety behavior, early motor skills, etc. It's so relieving to find someone that has dealt with what sounds like very similar experiences and to hear your Pumpkin is doing just fine now.
Thank you for posting!

Anonymous said...

Your story sounds just like my Jada bug she is 14 months and constanly fidgets and I wouldnt dream of cutting my hair either cause that is the only way she will go to sleep is to play with my hair which is a plus cause this is the longest my hair has ever been lol...I have also tryed a stuff teddybear or a blanket and it is not the same jada was an early crawler and walker as well...I am so glad I read your blog cause I didnt know if other babys done the same thing but your story is my little girl made over:)

kristin said...

Wow yes it is great to here these stories,listening to other parents who are experiencing this madness is uplifting! My little bubs is nearly 8 wks old and goes through phases, one day he's fine, next day he's kung fu panda??? Yes I swaddle although mw goes against this, he wriggles out or just gets pissed off and cries but sometimes when really tired the swaddle will work( when I cellotape it)ha,ha joke! He is on dr.browns bottles and he has gaviscon sachets in his milk(fm) and he has colief drops which have stopped that painful crying! He just can't keep still and he's more exhausted than me but hey ho, suppose we'll just have to slog it out, happy sleepness nights one an all xxx

Anonymous said...

Mt boy is 18 months old, and I have been looking for answers.. he is fine at going off to sleep - read him a story - he lays his head on his pillow, and waves as I leqave the room.... thats all fine - BUT, he is always on the go when he is awake, sits on my lap for the whole of a minute, then needs to get off and do something.... and, when I go up to bed I can hear him thrashing and banging about, I went in and checked n him saturday night - and he was totally aslkeep but writhing, and truning, crawling one end of the cot to the other... I have only noticed this violent wriggling since we took him out of grobags and using sheets... guess he's less restricted... but he's gotta get used to uit - hopefully it will get better.... was wondering if there was something physically - or mentally - wrong???? but you guys made me feel a little better... he's always running around - however - he learnt to walk at 9 months, run at 11, and feed himself totally by 11 too.... so guess there must be some kind of link?? thanks everyone..

Kacy said...

I have a 3 month old little girl, she is my first, and my situation is so similar to yours! It too started when she was in the womb, constant mover, hiccups constantly, and that's exactly how she is now. My mother has been around a lot of babies and can't believe how gassy my little one is. She does have reflux which we are trying to treat with Zantac, even upping the dose when it hadn't been really effective. We have used mylicon, gripe water, and are now on colic calm. We also use levsin drops for her gas and nothing is working!!! She also has trecheomalacia meaning her trachea is floppy so she makes the horrible gasping noises which can wake her up. My husband and I will get excited thinking we're having a great day and then at night it all falls apart. She only takes a few 10-30 minute naps during the day, then takes about 2 hours to get to sleep at night. We've swaddled her and she must be a future escape artist because it never stays, and we use the nap nanny, or boppy, or swing, and it lasts for about 15 minutes, then she starts kicking and flailing and grunting and wakes herself up. I know time is the key, but we're hanging by a thread!! I wish there was a more solid treatment for reflux because it seems that so many babies have it and nothing is very effective in treating it. I guess time will tell!

Heifer and her Calf said...

My son 7mo old has GERD. Tested and confirmed, he also has a milk/soy protein allergy and has to have Aliminten. This formula has GREATLY improved his GERD but he is also very gassy.

Since he was born when feeding he would kick one of his legs, flap his arm up and down or pat his head. I just figured he would do it to keep him self awake. When in the swing, ecosaucer, car seat hes always moving something.

Hes now recently started a "hand flapping" type thing, it started after we stopped swaddling him (we stopped that because no swaddlers were big enough and he got out of blankets too easily) and several people came up to me and told me he was Austic. I didn't feel that he was, he makes eye contact, laughes when I smile or makes a funny face, loves to cuddle and answers to his name. Hes also saying Mama, Dada and Hay and starting to crawl.
A friend refered me to this blog and I have to say you eased my fears. THANK YOU

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