My 1-month old son startles very easily when sleeping and frequently squirms around, even in a dark and quiet environment. I don't know if he's having a bad dream or what. This happens whether he's in my arms or in his cot, although he's a little bit more settled when in my arms. While sleeping he would startle or squirm every few minutes, and we'd have to SHHHH and pat him down. This would work several times, but eventually after no more than 60 minutes he would wake up crying. We swaddle him, play soft music, sing, hold him for 30 minutes, and do everything we can to not overstimulate him. We put him to sleep on his back and on his tummy under close supervision, same results. Please help. Thank you.

UPDATE: I have been keeping a sleep log for the past couple of days and found that he sleeps on average 10-11 hours a day.

  • When he squirms, do you at least give him 30 seconds to see if he will quiet down on his own?
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 17:56
  • You don't mention feeding. Do you feed him at night? Milk/formula? I think babies waking up frequently at night is a common occurrence.
    – Patrick87
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 20:52
  • @swbarnes2 yes I do. most of the time it doesn't work
    – rabbid
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 21:57
  • @Patrick87 yes we feed him expressed breast milk every 2-3 hours. Waking up frequently is fine. The issue is baby won't sleep much. By rough calculation he sleeps less than 10 hours a day. I don't know if that's OK or if it's too little.
    – rabbid
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 21:58
  • 1
    Newborn sleep patterns are rather unpredictable, but they usually sleep around fifteen hours a day (that is, a total of fifteen hours in small segments). I'd consider five hours a day as very little. Do keep a log to find out it your estimate is correct, and if so, consult a paediatrician.
    – sandris
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 10:45

3 Answers 3


Was your baby born earlier than expected? Have you tried to wrap him with blanket to limit his movememt? It's very effective if not to tight. Also, I would consider some white noise generating devices (you can buy a humming toys wchich calms baby down by reminding them womb noises. Some old school mums used hairdryers noise and it worked too!

  • Hi. My baby was born full term. Yes we swaddle regularly and this sometimes helps, sometimes does not. Have downloaded many different white noise online, heart beat, womb sounds, hair dryer, vacuum, etc., not much help
    – rabbid
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 0:20

This has a surprisingly simple answer:

The brain doesn't properly shut off the limb muscles during sleep yet.

When we sleep, our brain cuts/surpresses the impulse to move to our muscles, else we would be flailing our arms and legs or start walking during our dreams. Even in us adults this may not work in 100% of all cases, as we probably all have observed. In infants (sometimes up to school age), this "shutdown" often is not fully developed yet, leading to lots of movement during sleep.

Yes, this can be irritating to watch and even wake up the child, as you observed. Yet there is little you can do - brain development can't be rushed. So if your child twitches and twists a lot, consider swaddling. Sometimes mechanically restricting the movement helps, sometimes it is even worse, this depends on the child (I have two, one of each type...).

And this is a classic case of the often repeated parents' mantra:
This, too, shall pass.

  • Thanks for your answer. We swaddle a lot. Not much change.
    – rabbid
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 0:42

There is a huge variance of sleep patterns amongst children, so the sudden waking is not necessarily anything I would consider alarming. The low amount of time he sleeps, however, is cause for concern.

One thing I would recommend is to start a food diary (for mom) and start by eliminating dairy, wheat and as much sugar as you can, assuming caffiene is already out of the picture. Write down what you eat and when, when you nurse, and see if there are any different sleep patterns based on your diet. If things stabilize, reintroduce the wheat, dairy and/or sugar one at a time to see if there are any changes.

I have seven kids, and we found early on that diet had everything to do with everything... it still does, in fact, and that doesn't just go for the kids.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .