Babies: 3 - 6 Months

back arching & neck/head stretch

My LO is 5 months & has recently started this acrobatic thing where she's trying to fall asleep but arches her back & stretches her head so far I worry she's going to hurt herself.  This is usually accompanied by fussing and/or crying.  Does anyone know what this means?  DH thinks its just her way of becoming more emotional...

Re: back arching & neck/head stretch

  • Dd does that some times, I think it's just a thing they do.


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  • Reflux.  The arching makes the acid spread out along a longer path so it burns less, apparently.  Our doctor asked us if we observed arching and that was my first clue that we had the reflux pain, which was then followed a few weeks later with a lot of crying.
  • Mine did the same thing... then started rolling back to front... using this technique. Her pedi says it's most likely her learning to roll and be more mobile. We thought reflux too, at first, but wasn't accompanied with other symptoms, just a little fussing.
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  • b0710b0710
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    My little guy has reflux and sometimes does the back arching thing after eating.  However, he is currently doing exactly what you described.  It's different.  My guess was that he is trying to figure out how to roll himself over.  He did is yesterday for the first time ever, but every time I laid him down...anywhere...even if it wasn't nap or bedtime.  He also tried to do this same thing this morning in his bouncy seat while strapped in.  If you haven't found out by now that your LO has reflux, I would really be surprised if that's what it is.  It became pretty clear for our son around a week or so old.  I'm no dr but I would bet it's a developmental thing with gaining more body control and working towards those first controlled movements.
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  • If it is accompanied with crying it could be reflux. DS started doing this in the last week but he doesn't get upset when he does it. I think he is about to start rolling because when he does it on the floor he ends up on his side. It can't hurt to check with your pedi because if it is reflux your LO may need meds!
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  • Ive noticed my LO (also 5 months) do this when his tummy is bothering him, usually if he hasnt pooped regularly.
  • image 2013mommy:
    If it is accompanied with crying it could be reflux. DS started doing this in the last week but he doesn't get upset when he does it. I think he is about to start rolling because when he does it on the floor he ends up on his side. It can't hurt to check with your pedi because if it is reflux your LO may need meds!


    This. If he's arching back and crying in pain then it's gas and reflux. If he's just arching back and looking around, then it's developmentally appropriate. My 5 month old practically started doing back bends on the changing table. I guess he's really aware of his surroundings now.
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  • My DD has reflux, so when I saw her doing this I just assumed that that's what it was.  A day or two after it started, she rolled from tummy to back so I started watching her more closely when she was acting this way.  It became obvious that she's trying to figure out how to roll from her back to tummy.  She can't figure out how to get her arm out and gets frustrated.

  • b0710b0710
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    image b0710:
    My little guy has reflux and sometimes does the back arching thing after eating.  However, he is currently doing exactly what you described.  It's different.  My guess was that he is trying to figure out how to roll himself over.  He did is yesterday for the first time ever, but every time I laid him down...anywhere...even if it wasn't nap or bedtime.  He also tried to do this same thing this morning in his bouncy seat while strapped in.  If you haven't found out by now that your LO has reflux, I would really be surprised if that's what it is.  It became pretty clear for our son around a week or so old.  I'm no dr but I would bet it's a developmental thing with gaining more body control and working towards those first controlled movements.

    I just wanted to update this.  Since my LO started doing this same thing this weekend, he rolled over this morning for the first time.  He rolled from back to belly and did it multiple times.  He has not yet rolled from tummy to back, but I'm still guessing that's what these strange back-arching movements have been all about. 

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  • Thanks!  I'm thinking its probably the rolling thing since I don't think she has reflux  - something to look forward to :-)

  • hmonttyhmontty
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    Sounds like gas or poopy problems to me.
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