Newbie parents are scared easily. And that is nothing unusual. There is so much to know about, so much to worry about. Even after reading numerous books about newborn parenting, it is a completely different experience when you have the newborn in your arms, and something unusual happens. It is absolutely okay to get baffled and panicked.
Handling a newborn could be a testing job, and even more so when you have no what is happening to your baby and why it is happening. One common thing that you will notice in a newborn is that they often shake their leg for a moment and then stop. Mild shaking is nothing unusual and not concerning. But let’s look into the matter in detail.
Is Newborn Leg Shaking Normal?
The newborn leg shaking is quite normal, especially when they are sleeping. These tremors happen because the nervous system is developing, and this almost ends till the time the baby reaches three months.
It has been found that almost two-thirds of infants experience tremors within three days of their birth. These tremors happen in the legs and arms and mostly happen because the nervous system is not fully developed or because of high catecholamine levels in the blood.
Reasons Behind Newborns Shaking Their Legs
There could be numerous reasons why a newborn is twitching or shaking their leg, most of which are harmless. Let’s see what those are.
Immature Nervous System
The most common reason behind a newborn shaking their leg is because of the underdeveloped nervous system. Meaning that the path that carries the signals to the muscles from their brain is not fully developed. As a result, when they try to move their legs, it becomes shaky. There is nothing to be worried about, as this is going to stop in a few weeks on its own.
Benign Neonatal Sleep Myoclonus
If you notice your baby shaking their leg while they are sleeping, then it is mostly because of a sleeping disorder known as Benign neonatal sleep myoclonus. It is a lot like a hypnic jerk, which is the sudden muscle contraction we often feel when we are falling asleep. These can last for about twenty minutes, but they are not harmful.
Caffeine In Your Breast Milk
You might be taking coffee to keep yourself awake during the night, but you have to keep in mind that your baby is having it as well. Their metabolism rate for digesting coffee is a lot less than what we adults have. Professionals recommend an amount somewhere between 200 mg and 300 mg per day, which is like having two to three cups of coffee.
Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia is another common reason behind newborn leg shaking, a low level of blood sugar in babies. This happens mainly when you are having difficulty in feeding your baby, if they are premature, or if you have developed gestational diabetes. This can be confirmed with a blood sugar test and can be treated when you feed them carefully.
Deficiency Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency could also be a reason behind these tremors and jitters. There is a risk of them getting more tremors if they were born prematurely or if you are breastfeeding them without taking any vitamin D supplements. It is best to consult a doctor if you are suspecting this.
If you were exposed to substances like alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, cocaine, and opioids while you were pregnant can cause newborn tremors. This is something serious, and you would need help from a medical professional.
If you get even a mild feeling that these are not just tremors and your baby is having seizures, you should consult a doctor immediately. They might suggest an MRI or an EEG (electroencephalogram). Once they figure out the reason behind these seizures, it would be easy to treat them.
Is Newborn Leg Shaking Serious?
Mostly, leg shaking in newborns is nothing serious. There is nothing to worry about if you notice the following things:
- If they stop shaking their leg when you hold them or when you give them something to suck on.
- These episodes happen when they are doing something in particular, like when they are falling asleep or when you are changing their diaper.
- If you had too many coffees before breastfeeding your baby.
When To Contact A Doctor
The leg shaking could mean something more serious if there are some additional symptoms as well.
- If your baby is unwell.
- They are not feeding well.
- If they are lethargic or if it is difficult to wake them up.
- If they were exposed to alcohol, nicotine, or any other form of drugs while you were pregnant.
Leg shaking could also mean that they are having a seizure. Look for the following signs.
- If you notice a change in their breathing pattern, eye movement, mouth movement, or heart rate when they shake their leg.
- If the movement does not stop when you hold their leg softly.
- The episodes are exactly the same every time they happen.
- The movements are rhythmic and symmetrical.
- If you notice that they are sharing even when there is no change in the environment or in their posture and happening anything and not, particularly when they are falling asleep.
It is best to consult a doctor immediately if you suspect anything serious or notice anything similar to the above-mentioned symptoms.
I know it is taxing to see your baby suffering anyway, and when you are not sure what is causing it, and you have no solution for it. I hope this article helps you when you see a newborn leg shaking the next time. But it is always the best choice to consult a doctor and not take things into your own hands when it comes to these little humans.
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