Why Baby Is Arching Back


Have you noticed your newborn arching back frequently? If you did, this is probably caused by discomfort or pain. You may also notice your baby doing this while it is sleeping. It is obvious that you will get concerned, same as every other parent would. Anything that is not ordinary is causing concerns for parents.

However, everything is fine. You can relax. A lot of parents have tons of questions when they notice their baby arching back for no reason. We want to help you find a proper answer so you can be sure that there’s no reason to worry. There are a few possible reasons why your baby is behaving like this, and there are certain things you can do to help your child.

Minor Causes

There are a lot of reasons why your baby might be arching its back. You have to consider all of them, no matter if they are less or more serious. However, you need to take a look at minor causes first so you can understand what you are dealing with.


Babies are not able to communicate verbally, so you will never understand what your child is trying to tell you during the baby talk. This is why our kids usually use physical cues to warn us if there is something that’s bothering them. Arching back is one of these physical cues. If you notice your baby doing this, it is probably trying to communicate you that it is hungry, tired, or upset. Take a note every time you notice your baby arching back so you can determine if it is trying to communicate with you.

You will determine that this is the cause if you notice that crying and arching stops soon after you feed your baby, change its diapers, reposition it, or just distract your child.


Colic is something no parent wants to even hear about, not to mention dealing with the condition. You can consider that colic is causing your newborn arching back if your child is crying for no reason for long periods, if it clenches its fists, and if it draws its legs to its stomach. All of this combined with arching is a good sign that colic is the cause.

The biggest problem with colic is that not even experts know what is causing it exactly. Some professionals suggest that poor digestion or gas is the reason, others say that an immature nervous system is to blame. Either way, the main reason remains unknown. The symptoms will most likely go away if you notice your baby growing and feeding normally. Colic symptoms usually disappear on their own – when your child is about 3-4 months old.

Don’t worry about the colic triggers; there is nothing you can do about it. Just be sure that your child is going to be fine, you will just have to be patient. Consult with your baby’s pediatrician to get a better understanding of the topic so you can use some methods to relieve colic symptoms.


Some babies tend to arch back while crying right after they are fed. If you notice this behavior is reoccurring your baby is maybe having a condition called gastroesophageal reflux. Another name for this condition is acid reflux. This can also happen to adults, but babies have noticeable symptoms too. The acid from your baby’s stomach will come back up into the esophagus which will cause burning and pain to your baby. Having heartburn is almost the same as what a baby that suffers from acid reflux is going through.

Some other symptoms that are pointing at reflux are sour breath and spitting up large amounts of food. Spitting also happens more frequent. Babies that suffer from acid reflux will also be more comfortable if they are carried upright. So, if you notice your newborn arching back with all of these symptoms, consult with your doctor to deal with reflux properly.

In some rare cases, a baby will suffer from a chronic medical condition that is disabling esophageal sphincter to work properly. Doctors will then be required to perform surgery to the esophageal sphincter. Doing this will reduce the amount of acid to make its way up again. However, keep in mind that this condition is very rare and you probably don’t have to worry about it.

Rumination Disorder

Rumination is a very strange disorder. Infants who suffer from this condition swallow the food, then regurgitate it purposefully and then chew it again. After this, babies will either spit the food out or swallow it again. If this is happening constantly you can consider rumination as a reason why you notice your baby arching back so much. Babies also tend to make a sucking motion with their lips very often if they suffer from this disorder.

The doctors classify rumination as an eating disorder. There are a couple of causes for the disorder with the main ones being:

  • Stress
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Neglect and abuse
  • Needing attention
  • Physical illness

Other rumination symptoms are chapped lips, bad breath, tooth decay, and weight loss. However, most of the children eventually grow out of rumination on their own. Your baby’s pediatrician will probably provide you with some tips that will help support your baby to stop having rumination symptoms.

Serious Causes

A baby arching back will very rarely do so due to a more serious condition. However, you need to consider all of these just so you can be sure that none of these diseases is the cause.


If you notice your baby arching back while sleeping you might want to think about consulting with your doctor to determine whether your child suffers from sleep apnea. Your baby will probably wake up crying if you try to move it to a different position. Going back to the arched position after repositioning is also very common with sleep apnea. Babies who suffer from the condition have difficulties breathing during sleep. They develop unusual breathing patterns which are making it hard for them to sleep properly.

This is why babies arch their backs while sleeping. Their airways open up when they are arched, which then makes breathing a lot easier and less stressful.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

It is known that children that suffer from ASD usually have a really hard time developing any kind of social bonds. The people closest to them are no different. Babies with ASD are also really bad understanding body language, cues, and facial expressions.

If you notice your baby arching back while you are holding it you may consider ASD to be the cause. You will probably notice that your child is trying to get away from you. A child that arches back and tries to get away from physical contact is probably suffering from ASD. It will be very hard for a baby with ASD to understand why you are trying to pick it up constantly. However, if a child has ASD arching back won’t be the only symptom. You will also be able to notice other early signs of autism, usually much before your baby starts arching back. Delayed development of language, no smiling, and poor eye contact are good signs of ASD.

Cerebral Palsy


Have you noticed your newborn arching back without being able to control the movement? If you did, and you also notice that your baby’s arms bend and legs stretch simultaneously while arching, consider cerebral palsy as a possible cause.

Cerebral palsy is considered to be a group of disorders. The condition is mainly attacking the individual’s ability to control their movements. Unfortunately, this condition is caused during pregnancy or shortly after birth. It is caused by brain damage.

Signs of cerebral palsy are bent arms, straightened legs, tilted head, and arched back. The persistence of the tonic labyrinth reflex is the number one symptom of cerebral palsy. Don’t worry too much since some of these movements are very usual in the first few months of life. However, if you notice your newborn arching back frequently and development delays make sure to consult with your baby’s pediatrician to make sure your child doesn’t have cerebral palsy or any other neurologic disorder.


Severe baby jaundice can cause serious brain damage to babies – this type of disease is called kernicterus. One of the common symptoms is unwanted muscle spasms, which is why babies start arching their backs uncontrollably.

Jaundice is not an uncommon disease among babies. About three out of every five newborns will suffer from some type of jaundice during infancy. However, very rarely, bilirubin levels may start getting too high and they can’t be reduced without proper treatment. Kernicterus is a concern because of these rare cases. Babies who suffer from kernicterus have usual jaundice symptoms, such as yellow skin tone. Also, other kernicterus symptoms are weak muscle tone, high-pitched crying, irritability, poor feeding, and back arching.

The most common treatment for jaundice is phototherapy. Taking a hydration formula is also very important for treating jaundice. However, kernicterus is a much more serious condition and requires transfusion exchange – exchanging baby’s blood with healthy blood to get rid of bilirubin.


You should immediately consult with your baby’s pediatrician if you notice your baby spasming and arching its back uncontrollably.

Children under one year of age may experience a very rare seizure disorder called infantile spasms. This type of seizures usually starts around four months after birth in most cases. However, they can also start earlier or later, depending on the individual.

Diagnosing infantile spasms is very hard for both parents and doctors. Infantile spasms usually don’t have generalized convulsions like traditional seizure disorders do – making diagnosing very hard. It is very difficult to control the seizures even if a child is taking proper medications. Unfortunately, babies who develop infantile spasms are at huge risk to have developmental delays. Once the doctors can diagnose the condition, a child will be given antiepileptic medications to treat the conditions. It is ideal to discover seizures as early as possible.

Contacting Your Baby’s Pediatrician

You should always try to console and calm your baby, cuddle and reposition it, and distract it with something to fight off arching back. All of these tricks are beneficial and can help your child to calm down a bit. However, doing this just won’t be enough is some cases and you will have to visit a doctor to get proper treatment. Underlying issues might be alarming, but they usually aren’t.

Don’t hesitate to contact your child’s pediatrician if you feel that there’s a serious issue behind the arching. You probably won’t get a definitive answer immediately but your child will be provided with proper treatment, medication, and advice to help solve the problem.

Keep in mind that it is your job to document everything you experience. Doctors sometimes have a hard time diagnosing since they don’t know how a child acts outside the medical facility. You are the one that has to explain everything to your baby’s pediatrician so your child can get proper treatment.

It is always good to photograph your baby while it is arched so you can show to your doctor how the problem looks. Make a question list about everything you want to know so you don’t accidentally forget anything important. Also, remember to tell your baby’s doctor all remedies you already tried to fight off the symptoms.

Baby Planet Overview

It is not uncommon for babies to arch their backs. However, a lot of parents have to deal with this unwanted condition. The good news is that it is nothing to worry about, in most cases. But, you have to be there for our child and you need to understand the causes behind it. Always consult with your baby’s doctor if you are unsure of what to do. Babies usually stop arching back on their own after some time but make sure that there’s no underlying problem that is causing the behavior.

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  1. Gastroesophageal reflux in children, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Hello Mother's and Father's of the world. My name is Sarah Nielsen is this is my passion MyBabiesPlanet.com, as I am a mother of two beautiful babies and they are my world. Also I love blogging and sharing my experiences of what has worked for me when raising my kids. When I'm not juggling the madness at home, or working on my blog. You will find me product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest baby gear and helpful articles for my readers!