Is Your Baby’s Back Arching While Sleeping?

It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time or experienced parent, you notice every detail about your baby. You pay attention to your baby’s appearance and movements, anxiously checking to see if everything is okay.

Some parents may notice their baby arching their back while sleeping. Not only does it look uncomfortable, but the arching motion can also worry parents. They wonder if their baby is ill or if the bedding is uncomfortable. If you notice this in your baby, here are a few reasons why infants arch their backs.

Why Your Baby’s Back is Arching While Sleeping

Babies arch their backs when they are sleeping for a variety of reasons, and not all require medical attention.

Gastroesophageal Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is common in babies, usually developing around two months of age and lasting until their first birthdays.

Unlike adults, babies’ esophageal sphincters are not fully developed. It can allow formula or breast milk to move from the stomach back up into the esophagus, causing your baby’s back to arch in response to the built-up pressure.

Adding a bit of rice cereal to your baby’s breast milk or formula can help prevent the uncomfortable feeling.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that occurs in adults and infants. The health disorder disrupts breathing during sleep.

If your baby is frequently arching his back during nap and bedtimes, it may indicate your infant is having difficulty inhaling and exhaling. The arched back can indicate your baby is trying to keep his airways clear and open.

The sleep disorder is more common in infants born prematurely. If you notice your baby is sleepy during the day, snores, or frequently arches their back, make an appointment with your baby’s pediatrician.


Babies get gas just like adults and the uncomfortable pressure can make them arch their backs in their sleep. The movement is your infant trying to relieve the pressure.

Some formulas can give babies gas, especially if they have a sensitive digestive system. Try switching to a different formula brand. You may also want to consider burping your baby two times after feeding.

It will help reduce the amount of air in your baby’s system that causes gas.

The Moro Reflex

The Moro or startle reflex is normal in babies around three to six months of age. The reflexive response is triggered when your baby is startled, and it can happen in their sleep.

Your baby responds to the external stimuli by arching his back. It only lasts for a few seconds before your baby relaxes. Most infants outgrow the Moro reflex within a few months.

What to Do if Your Baby’s Back is Arching During Sleep

Parents always want to soothe and protect their babies. When your baby is arching his back in the crib or bassinet, your first instinct is to fix the problem.

Picking your baby up will help calm fussy infants down. Try rocking your baby or singing a quiet lullaby. You can also reposition your little one in the crib. Sometimes, your baby is arching his back in an attempt to find a more comfortable sleeping position.

Burping can also help, especially if your baby’s bedtime is after feeding.


Babies arch their backs while they are sleeping. It is often normal and something your little one will outgrow as they get older.

It can also signal a more serious health problem, so pay attention to your infant’s symptoms. Is your baby snoring or constantly sleepy during the day? If so, it can indicate your child has a form of sleep apnea.

Anytime you are concerned about your baby’s health, never hesitate to talk to your pediatrician.

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One thing I didn’t realize before having kids of my own, though, is how much stuff babies need—and how complicated it can all get! With so many different options out there for things like car seats, strollers, and cribs, figuring out which ones are right for your family can feel confusing and anxiety-inducing, especially alongside all the other work you have to do to prepare your home for the new arrival.