Baby wakes Himself Up With Hands

Baby wakes himself up with Hands


As new parents, one of the most challenging aspects of caring for a newborn baby is getting them to sleep through the night. Many parents are often left wondering why their baby wakes themselves up repeatedly during the night, even when they seem to be sleeping soundly. The answer lies in understanding the role of the startle reflex and Moro reflex in newborn babies.

Baby Waking Himself Up With Hands – Baby’s Moro Reflex

All humans, even infants, have a reflex known as the startle response. The baby throws their arms out and then quickly pulls them back in as an uncontrollable reaction to a sudden, unexpected noise or movement. The baby may be startled and awakened by something as simple as a loud noise or a sudden movement that sets off this reflex.

A baby’s startle response, which can be extremely strong in the first few months of life, can lead them to wake up frequently at night. This is due to the fact that their nervous system is still growing and they have not yet mastered the ability to regulate their reflexes. But when the child develops and their neurological system


The Reasons Babies Experience the Moro Reflex or Startle reflex

The Moro reflex, also known as the startle reflex, is a normal reflex that newborn babies experience. It usually disappears around 3-6 months of age. This reflex occurs when a baby feels a falling sensation or hears a loud noise, causing them to startle and throw their arms out wide.

The purpose of the Moro reflex is to ensure that the baby has a healthy nervous system and can respond to stimuli appropriately. It also helps the baby wake up when they need to, such as when they are hungry or uncomfortable.

Swaddling, using sleep sacks, or white noise can help babies feel more secure and prevent them from waking up due to the startle reflex. However, it’s important to transition out of swaddling when the baby starts to roll over, usually around 3-4 months of age, to prevent suffocation.

Most babies will eventually outgrow the startle reflex on their own, but parents can also help by gently soothing and putting their baby back to sleep when they wake up due to the reflex. Co-sleeping or using a crib near the parents’ bed can also help the baby feel more calm and more settled in the early days of life.

Overall, experiencing the startle reflex is a normal part of a baby’s development and doesn’t usually indicate any problems with their nervous system or sleep. With time and care, babies will gain more control over their movements and eventually outgrow the reflex.

Is the Moro reflex an issue for Newborn babies?

baby, smile, portrait

While most babies will experience the Moro reflex, some babies may find it unsettling or even disruptive to their sleep. In the early days, swaddling can help to stop the baby from startling themselves awake. Swaddle blankets or sleep sacks can provide a secure and comfortable environment that helps the baby feel more settled and calm, which can lead to better sleep.

However, as the baby gets older, around 3-6 months of age, it may start to roll and become more mobile. At this point, swaddling can become unsafe, as the baby’s arms may become trapped or unable to move their arms. Parents may also find that their baby wakes up more frequently or cries when they are swaddled.

If the Moro reflex is becoming an issue for the baby, parents can try other methods to soothe them, such as white noise or gentle rocking. Co-sleeping or placing the baby in a crib or cot close to the parents’ bed can also help them feel more secure and calm. As the baby grows and develops more control over their movements, they will naturally outgrow the Moro reflex and be less likely to startle themselves awake.

Helping Calm Your Newborn Baby When They Experience the Moro Reflex

To calm your newborn baby when they cry and experience the Moro reflex, one technique is to swaddle them in a soft, snug swaddle blanket.

In the early days, it’s important to swaddle your baby to prevent quick movement and stop the startling reflex. As your baby grows and develops more control over their nervous system, it may not need to be swaddled as much. It’s important to pay attention to your baby’s cues and adjust accordingly.

Another way to help your baby is to co-sleep with them. This means having your baby sleep in the same room with you, either in a separate crib or in a co-sleeping arrangement. This can help the baby feel more secure and may reduce the frequency of the startle reflex.

You can also try using white noise, such as a fan or a sound machine, to help your baby fall and stay asleep. This can help drown out any sudden noises that you hear that might startle the baby.

using a pacifier to soothe and calm them, creating a calming sleep environment by using blackout curtains, establishing a consistent bedtime routine, and using a sleep sack to prevent startle reflex and keep the baby warm, and helps to keep them calm

If your baby wakes up and starts crying again, try gently placing your hand on their chest to help calm them. You can also try holding them and rocking them slowly to help them settle down.

What are some other newborn reflexes?

other newborn reflexes besides the startle reflex!

  1. Sucking reflex: This reflex is essential for feeding and can be seen when a baby instinctively sucks on a nipple or pacifier when it is placed in their mouth.
  2. Rooting reflex: Similar to the sucking reflex, this reflex helps babies find and latch onto a nipple for feeding. When the cheek of a baby is stroked, it will turn its head in that direction, with its mouth open and ready to feed.
  3. Grasp reflex: When an object is placed in a newborn’s hand, they will automatically close their fingers around it. This reflex is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation to help babies cling to their caregivers.
  4. Stepping reflex: When held upright with their feet touching a surface, babies will instinctively make stepping movements as if they are trying to walk.
  5. Babinski reflex: When the sole of a baby’s foot is stroked, its toes will fan out and then curl in. This reflex helps to test for proper neurological development.
  6. Tonic neck reflex: Sometimes called the “fencing” reflex, this reflex is observed when a baby’s head is turned to one side and the arm on that same side extends while the opposite arm flexes. This reflex is thought to aid in the development of hand-eye coordination and the ability to reach and grasp objects.

It’s important for most parents to note that not all newborns will exhibit these reflexes, and some may disappear after a few months of age. Additionally, these reflexes are not the only indicators of a healthy nervous system, and doctors may perform additional tests to ensure proper development.


What happens if the Moro reflex doesn’t go away?

The Moro reflex is considered a sign of a healthy nervous system and usually goes away by the time the baby is 4 to 6 months old. However, in some cases, the Moro reflex may persist beyond this age.

If the Moro reflex doesn’t go away, it can be disruptive to a baby’s sleep and overall well-being. For example, if a baby falls asleep and then suddenly wakes up due to the Moro reflex, they may have difficulty falling back asleep. This can be frustrating for both the baby and their parents, who may also experience interrupted sleep.

If the Moro reflex persists and is causing significant disruptions to a baby’s sleep or daily life, parents should talk to their pediatrician for additional guidance and support. In some cases, physical therapy or other interventions may be recommended to help manage the reflex.

Physical therapy can help to improve a baby’s muscle tone and control, which can in turn help them to better manage their startle reflex. Other interventions may include changes to the baby’s environment, such as using a swaddle blanket, sleep sacks, or other devices to help the baby feel more secure and reduce the likelihood of sudden movements.

medications or other medical interventions may also be necessary in some cases to help manage the reflex. It is important to work with a pediatrician or other healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for each individual baby.

Swaddle Blankets to Help baby sleep better

The Moro reflex can be disruptive to a baby’s sleep and overall well-being. For example, if a baby falls asleep and then suddenly wakes up due to the Moro reflex, it may have difficulty falling back asleep. This can be frustrating for both the baby and their parents, who may also experience interrupted sleep.

Here are some tips to help babies sleep better

Swaddle your baby – Swaddling is a technique that involves wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket, creating a womb-like feeling. This can help to prevent your baby from startling themselves awake.

Swaddling your baby in a swaddle blanket or sleep sack can help prevent the Moro reflex from waking him up. Swaddling involves wrapping the baby tightly in a blanket, which provides a sense of security and can help him fall asleep faster.

Parents should also avoid stopping swaddling cold turkey, as this can be jarring for the baby’s nervous system. Instead, they should gradually wean their baby off swaddling as the baby gets older and gains more control over their movements.

Other ways to help baby sleep better include :

Use a pacifier – Sucking on a pacifier can help to soothe your baby and keep them calm. It can also help to prevent them from accidentally hitting themselves in the face.

Create a calming sleep environment – Make sure your baby’s sleep environment is calm and relaxing. Use blackout curtains to keep the room dark and use white noise to drown out any outside noises.

Establish a bedtime routine – A consistent bedtime routine can help to signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep. This can include a warm bath, a story, and a lullaby.

Use a sleep sack – A sleep sack is a wearable blanket that can help to prevent your baby from startling themselves awake. It also helps to keep them warm and cozy throughout the night.

Adjust the room temperature – Make sure your baby’s room is at a comfortable temperature. If the room is too hot or too cold, it can make it difficult for your baby to sleep.

Practice tummy time – Tummy time is important for your baby’s development and can also help to tire them out. This can make it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it is normal for newborn babies to experience the startle reflex, also known as the Moro reflex, which can cause them to wake up suddenly with their arms flailing. Most babies will outgrow this reflex by the age of three to six months.

Swaddling a baby in a swaddle blanket or sleep sack can help them feel secure and prevent them from waking themselves up with their arms.

However, it is important to stop swaddling cold turkey once the baby starts to roll over. Co-sleeping with the baby can also help soothe them and prevent them from being startled by loud noises at night.

With time and age, babies will develop more control over their reflexes, allowing them to settle and calm down more easily when waking up. Overall, parents can try various interventions such as physical therapy or using a white noise machine to help manage the startle reflex and promote better sleep for their newborn.



Why do babies hold their hands while sleeping?

Babies may hold their hands during sleep to self-soothe or to feel a sense of security and comfort. This can also help them regulate their body temperature and provide a sense of familiarity as they transition through different stages of sleep.

What are the signs of self-soothing in babies?

Signs of self-soothing in babies may include a baby sucking up on fingers or a pacifier, rubbing their own face or body, rocking or bouncing themselves, making repetitive movements or sounds, and holding onto an object or body part for comfort. These behaviors can help babies regulate their emotions and calm themselves down when upset.

Why is my baby waking himself up by rubbing his face?

Babies may wake themselves up by rolling and rubbing their faces due to being tired. or to soothe themselves This could also be due to teething, allergies, or other physical discomforts. It is important to monitor your baby and address any underlying issues that may be causing the behavior.

How do you know when Moro reflex is gone?

The Moro reflex, also known as the startle reflex, typically disappears between 3-6 months of age. Signs that the Moro reflex is gone may include the baby being able to sleep more soundly, not being as easily startled, and not displaying the characteristic “jerking” motion or flailing of limbs when triggered by a sudden noise or movement.



This post is written and edited by Sandy who is a clinical pharmacist with over 20 years of experience specializing in pre-natal and post-natal care.