Here’s a question from one of the readers, Samantha:
“Why is my baby kicking in sleep? She’s almost six months and kicking so much in her sleep that she wakes up almost every hour. She has been doing this for a week. I’m worried she may not be getting enough sleep.”
Well, Samantha, my babies never experienced kicking in sleep. But I did research and found out that a lot of moms have a similar question, so I decided to dedicate a whole article about it.
I am not a medical practitioner in any way. Although my articles are research-based, they should not be taken as medical advice. Only your baby’s doctor has that power.
Baby Kicking In Sleep: What’s Normal
1. Motor development
BabyCenter has a whole thread full of moms asking the same question. If you go through each of the questions and comments, you will notice a pattern:
Baby kicking in sleep starts sometime around 5 months old and disappears when they’re about one year old.
If you check a baby’s development milestones, you’ll see that it’s by this age their motor skills include kicking. According to Dr. John Mersch, 4 to 7 months is when our little ones start kicking their legs. The months before that are mere stretching of the limbs.
Although the kicking in sleep due to this motor development is not medically backed, a lot of parents observed that by the time their babies are at this age, they do kick a lot even in sleep.
You have to observe the kicking and ensure it’s not convulsive or epileptic in nature. Otherwise, it could be something serious. If you suspect the latter, ask your doctor about it.
2. Disturbed sleep
Another answer to “Why is my baby kicking in sleep?” is simply a disturbed sleep. If she is startled, her automatic response is limb movement. She could raise her arms, her legs, or both.
Some babies would go back to sleep right after getting startled, but if you have a screamer like my son, it would mean you have to lull him to sleep all over again because he wouldn’t stop kicking unless I pick him up. But there’s more to disturbed sleep than we know.
According to Stanford Children’s Health, babies, especially newborns, have a different sleep pattern than us adults. It’s critical to know this pattern so that you know when to put her down.
Babies, unlike adults, usually spend the first 20 minutes in light sleep before going to the deep sleep phase. If she fell asleep in your arms, put her down only when she’s in the deep sleep phase to avoid waking her up.
Also, infants don’t cry immediately upon waking up. They have this quiet phase when they are observing their surroundings. You may see her eyes closed but she could be moving a little. This is the signal that she needs feeding.
Baby Kicking In Sleep: What’s Not Normal
There’s this thing cold Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) that can happen even to our little ones. It’s called Pediatric PLMD.
Children’s Health defines PLMD as “a neurological disorder (impacting the brain, spine and connecting nerves) that affects a child’s ability to lie still during the night and may impact the duration and quality of sleep. Formerly known as sleep myoclonus or nocturnal myoclonus, PLMD can affect any age or gender.”
What does PLMD look like?
Compared to the normal kicking, pediatric PLMD is a very brief movement of the limbs. It “can be brief muscle twitches, jerking, leg kicks (jerky legs) or cause the foot to flex.”
In other words, it is a one-time limb movement unlike normal kicking when the movements are continuous for some time.
Also, pediatric PLMD involves one limb at a time. Normal kicking usually involves both. Another difference is the duration. PLMD goes on for about 20 minutes to an hour then no more. It also does not happen every night. PLMD may also occur in the arms.
What causes it?
Pediatric PLMD causes are, as of this writing, unknown. Experts say it could be some abnormalities in the regulation of nerves that travels from our brain to the limbs.
Does it need treatment?
According to WebMD, early symptoms of PLMD should be consulted with a doctor for prevention.
The current treatment plans (for adults) do not cure the abnormality, but it alleviates the symptoms. These plans are necessary particularly if sleep is affected.
Normal Kicking vs. PLMD
To know whether your baby kicking in sleep is normal or not, here’s a brief comparison.
a couple of seconds to minutes
one at a time
Does it affect sleep?
What I’m saying is…
Samantha and the rest of my readers, what I’m telling you here is there are several answers to “Why is a baby kicking in sleep?”
It could be normal--her motor abilities are developing or she was startled and her reflexes are kicking. It could also be an abnormality like pediatric PLMD.
Whatever the cause is, sleep kicking can disturb your little one’s sleep and cause sleep disorder. Make sure you take the necessary steps.
For the normal cases, put her back to sleep yourself or sleep train her. Also, be wary of the time you should be putting her down. She should be in the deep sleep phase; otherwise, you’re back to square one.
In the other case, ask your doctor about how you can handle it properly.
After a couple of months of breastfeeding, you are going to want to store your breast milk for your baby. Whether you are going back to work or you simply want to have some time of rest, pumping is your answer. Pumping milk is not all easy. I’m sure you will have many questions about it. One of the most common questions is “How much milk should I be pumping?”
Enough to Supply While You’re Away
How much milk to pump depends on how long you’ll be away from your baby. When you are going back to work, you will have less time to nurse the baby. Even then, you can still give him what he needs. If you are away from your baby for a whole day, make sure you have enough supply to feed your baby.
You can pump milk as early as a week before you are expected to be away. That way, you can prepare and gauge how long it takes to fill a bottle.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that the child is not taking in anything other than breastmilk. This affects how much breast milk is pumped because the mother who is exclusively breastfeeding produces more than those who are giving formula.
A mother who is only breastfeeding can expect to yield about 45 to 60mL if she is pumping between regular feedings. If she pumps after a missed feeding, she can expect to pump a full feeding which is about 90-120mL.
The Fresher, the Better
Although you can pump more milk and store it, you also need to remember that it's still best to give fresh milk. Refrigeration or freezing can preserve the milk and keep it edible for a period. However, research says that the longer your store milk in refrigerator or freezer, the greater the loss of vitamin C.
Choose How You Want to Express Milk
Expressed milk is another name for collected breast milk. You can express milk in different ways: hand expression, manual pump, or electric breast pump. To help you choose, let's go over the typical pros and cons.
1. Hand expression
This method might take some getting used to, but it’s convenient and needs less preparation. This method is the cheapest because you will only need a clean container to catch and store the milk. It also saves you the time from sterilizing pumping equipment.
2. Manual Pump
With a manual pump, the suction is more consistent. It’s cheaper than an electric pump, it quiet and it’s more compact for taking around. It might be difficult to get a pumping rhythm and making a rhythm will tire your hands.
3. Electric Pump
An electric pump is ideal if you’re going to pump regularly. It’s faster but more expensive. It will require more preparation than the other methods but the rhythm of pumping is more consistent. While you're pumping, you have the freedom to do something else because your hands will be free.
You can do your research and that will help you. But you should know that testing the methods is the best way to find out which way is perfect for you. Reviews are subjective. A manual pump might be more comfortable than an electric pump, but it could be different for another mother. In the end, your comfort and preference are what matters. It will take some time of getting used to so give your choice a chance as well.
Expect Less Milk in the First Few Tries
If exclusive breastfeeding is going well the first couple of weeks, your milk production will dramatically increase. But using a pump is different than having the baby suck the milk out.
Expect small amounts in the first couple of pumps. Your yield will gradually increase as time goes on and the more you get used to it. Even with good milk production and a good pump, you might find pumping tricky. It takes some time to be proficient at pumping so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Do not gauge how much you pumped with how much you produce. The “down flow” of milk might not be the same. When you are pumping, it might help to think of your baby. When you hear your child cry, milk naturally lets down. So when you are away at work or elsewhere, imagining you baby when you are pumping might be helpful.
Storage and Refrigeration
You can store breastmilk in a clean glass bottle or safe plastic bottles with tight lids. As soon as you finished pumping, store it in batches that are ready for feeding. Remember to store in a way that won't go to waste. Since you cannot refreeze breast milk after you have thawed it, make sure that you feed what you thaw. You also need to know how to scald breast milk to make it last longer.
Refrigerated breast milk is good for as long as five to eight days. Frozen milk is good for three to six months. To guide you, label your containers with the date of collection. Use the dates to guide you as to which batch to feed first or last.
Ideally, you should be exclusively breastfeeding your baby from birth to about six months. The breastmilk contains the essential nutrients your baby needs for optimal growth, health and development.
Breastfeeding will benefit you and your child's health while offering an opportunity for the both of you to bond. Latching your child on your breast to feed is more ideal than a bottle of expressed milk.
However, the choice is still yours. It’s your preference that matters. Just remember that there is no shame in breastfeeding in public. If you are shy, you can use nursing covers to breastfeed in public. Before you start pumping, consult your doctor.
You’ve checked different sites about reasons your newborn sleeps with mouth open, and you saw the same reason: mouth breathing.
And when these sites say mouth breathing, the usual reason that follows is clogged nose.
However, you are certain that your baby’s nose is not clogged at all. You’ve checked it and cleaned it. You also made sure the temperature and humidity are optimal. Hence, you are confident it is not clogged nose, so she’s not mouth breathing.
But why does she still sleep with mouth open?
Three Reasons Newborn Sleeps with Mouth Open
1. Airway problem
Not all airways problems are about colds and stuffy noses. Hence, if your little one has no colds whatsoever, there could be a deeper issue.
Registered dental hygienist Sarah Hornsby says it could be asthma, enlarged tonsils, deviated septum, and other concerns affecting the airways.
How do you know the airways are affected?
The normal breath rate for babies is 60 breaths per minute. Beyond that, along with the problem signs listed below, your baby could be having any of the listed issue above. According to WebMD, these are the signs:
Talk to your doctor about it. If she’s having cyanosis, take her to the nearest hospital.
2. Finger sucking habit
The babies I know--including mine--suck their finger a lot. That’s not something to be worried about, but Hornsby says overtime, “the oral and facial muscles will develop around this habit.”
Thus, even though your baby no longer does it, your newborn may still sleep with mouth open.
This medical condition is about not just the speech difficulty but also the restricted lingual frenulum. Others call it the tethered tongue.
This condition generally restricts the tongue’s movement because the lingual frenulum (a tight band of tissue) attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
Are There Risks if a Newborn Sleeps with Mouth Open?
Yes. There are risks if you let your newborn sleep with mouth open. More often than not, you baby will be mouth breathing when her mouth is open, and that’s not a good practice.
Dr. Artour Rakhimov, an alternative health educator enumerates the following reasons mouth breathing should not be encouraged:
Abnormalities in blood gases
Reduced perfusion of vital organs
Suppressed immune system
Permanent structural changes in the shape of the phase
It’s not only Dr. Rakhimov that discourages mouth breathing. Several studies concluded that mouth breathing is indeed not beneficial.
Aside from the fact that it promotes drooling and snoring, it may also lead to nasal obstruction, nocturnal sleep problems, and irritability during the day concludes one study.
What Should You Do?
Each case of newborn sleeping with mouth open needs a different approach, but here are some experts’ suggestions:
If you suspect an airway obstruction, talk to your doctor about it.
If your baby is having a hard time breathing, checked via the breathing rate and/or turning blue, call 911.
If she has a tied tongue, and she’s not feeding properly, ask your doctor for the best solution.
If the above points do not apply, start with monitoring your child for open mouth resting posture. Check if it happens only at night or during the day as well. If it’s only at night, it could be an indication of some illness such as allergies or asthma.
Close your baby’s mouth whenever you can. Co-sleeping will be very helpful in this case.
If she keeps on opening it, ask a myofunctional therapist what can be done. Myofunctional therapy is what sleep specialists use to improve breathing problems during sleep.
Before you chalk it all up to breathing problems, though, it’s good to know your newborn’s breathing patterns.
They know how to breathe through their nostrils. Hence, mouth breathing is out of the ordinary.
They have smaller breathing pathways, which means their airways get obstructed easily. This is one of the main reasons we encourage safe sleeping all the time. And by safe sleeping, we mean getting rid of unnecessary items in your baby’s bed.
Newborn’s breath rate is 30 to 60 breaths per minute when they’re awake. When asleep, it can be as low as 20 breaths per minute.
Newborns are periodic breathers. This means they can pause breathing up to ten seconds at a time.
Newborns can also be rapid breathers then pause. If there are no pauses, it could mean they’re having difficulty breathing (may be caused by fluids in the lungs or fever). Have her checked right away.
Newborn Breathing Noises
Newborns may create noise while breathing too, so be sure to understand what each of them means. Healthline enumerates the following:
Whistling noise. If you hear this sound, no matter how low the volume is, it could indicate blockage in the nostrils. You can suction the mucus using a newborn bulb syringe.
Hoarse cry and barking cough. This could be a blockage in the windpipe caused by mucus or inflammation.
Wheezing. Wheezing may be caused by a blockage as well but in the lower airways. The common causes are asthma, pneumonia, or respiratory syncytial virus.
Snoring. Mucus can also cause snoring not just whistling. It can also mean sleep apnea or enlarged tonsils.
When newborn sleeps with mouth open, it’s not only because of mucus due to common cold. There could be other underlying, not to mention more serious, problems such as asthma, enlarged tonsils, or deviated septum.
Whatever the cause is, sleeping with mouth open is not a good practice for both children and adults. Hence, you should ask your doctor how to correct it as early as now.
I understand that we, moms, would like to keep a close watch on our little bundle of joys 24/7 if the odds allow. But we also know that that happening is contrary to reason. We should give each other some time to rest and our babies to grow and learn on their own.
Speaking of on their own, when do you decide to put your baby in his or her own room? Is there a specific time?
Quite frankly, there’s no hard and fast rule about it.
If you ask moms and sleep and baby experts, you’d hear the perpetual “it all depends on your baby.” And it is actually true.
So, maybe, the question should be “it depends on what?”
More and more moms are asking whether the old wives’ tale that says beer increases milk supply is correct. The answer is yes and no.
It turns out that drinking beer is like a two-edged sword. The beer that your grandmother used to drink a few centuries ago is not the same factory-made beer that you can buy nowadays.
In the past, a beer concoction is made by hand, but now, it is mass-made in a facility somewhere offsite. The quality of beers nowadays has more alcohol and less flavor and even lesser grains. They do not compare to the older craft beers, they won’t function just as good.
Would you believe there is no exact answer to this very important question? If you are panicky like me (and this is according to my husband, BTW), you were probably anxious whenever your baby would sleep for a looooong time.
When my daughter was an infant, I remember I would check on her very often because I would be done with several chores and she would still be asleep. I would also repeatedly ask my husband if the baby was still breathing. (He would roll his eyes at me, but he would still check, though).