Baby Arching Back and Crying: Why and What Does It Mean?

Babies communicate differently than older kids. If you find your baby arching his back and crying, you may be wondering what the reasons are and what you can do. In this article, you will learn why babies arch their backs and cry.

Babies must be inventive when attempting to communicate with us before disclosing what they want. This implies employing a wide range of distinct–and sometimes distressing–orts of movement and physical expression.

Parents may feel strange for a few days after the birth, especially first-timers who may not be familiar with their baby’s body language.

Sure, it’s simple to remain calm when your baby is peacefully sleeping or cooing happily while being held. However, when they begin to arch their backs–especially whilst crying, sleeping, or being carried–it’s natural to be concerned.

The important thing to remember is that babies cry for a reason, even if you can’t immediately discern what it might be. 

If your baby’s crying has increased or changed recently in terms of the types of cries (not just volume), or you notice changes in her activity level or sleep patterns, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor.

If you notice your baby arching her back and crying while rolling from her stomach to her back, it could be a sign of pain in the stomach or the umbilical cord. This is especially true if she stops when you rub or press on the abdomen.

What Does a Baby Arching Their Back Mean?

newborn arching back when crying
newborn arching back when crying

Babies arch their backs as a result of discomfort. When they’re not able to voice what hurts, they naturally try to find a way to escape the pain–and arching during crying is often accompanied by stiffening of legs and arms too.

It’s important for parents to take note of any sudden changes in behavior and look for related symptoms that could point to a health problem.

If your baby is not sleeping or crying in pain but has arched her back when being held in one position for too long, it’s possible she needs more movement in order to encourage digestion.

Again, this is especially true if the arching begins soon after birth and lasts throughout the day and night.

Why Does a Baby Arching Their Back and Crying?

If your baby’s arching her back and crying, it could be a sign of discomfort or pain from gas, constipation, or acid reflux. 

In this case, it will probably help to change the position you hold her in–for example, switching from sitting down to standing up can make a big difference.

Related Article: Newborn Fighting Sleep

In fact, one study found that babies who kept their legs straight and tucked up while being held were more likely to get relief from arching than those who had extended legs.

Another thing to try is holding your baby in such a way that her stomach rests on your forearm with her head in the crook of your other arm; alternatively, you could lightly pat or massage her stomach.

If your baby is arching their back and crying, it could be a sign of discomfort or pain from gas, constipation, acid reflux, or other conditions that might require medical attention. To get help for your child, see your doctor or schedule an appointment with a pediatrician.

If your baby is not sleeping or crying in pain but has arched her back when being held in one position for too long, it’s possible she needs more movement in order to encourage digestion.

Another thing to try is holding your baby in such a way that her stomach rests on your forearm with her head in the crook of your other arm; alternatively, you could lightly pat or massage her stomach.

In some cases, ear infections can cause children to lie down flat so they feel better. If you notice symptoms of fever, listlessness, and irritability along with arching while lying down, take your child to see a doctor right away. In some situations, this can be life-threatening.

What to Do When Your Baby Arching His Back?

baby arching back and crying when feeding
baby arching back and crying when feeding

Make sure your baby is in a safe and comfortable position while sleeping, such as on his back with no extra pillows.

Arching the back and crying might be an early sign of colic or acid reflux for babies that are formula-fed according to Baby Center. 

Some research suggests that more than half of all colicky babies have mother’s milk-induced colic because they’re sensitive to something in their mothers’ diet.

If you think your baby’s arching her back and crying could be related to constipation, try giving him a warm bath, massaging or rubbing his tummy, or gently stroking his bottom. 

Run a lukewarm (not hot) stream over his tummy from a faucet or showerhead, or hold him over a sink and let the water run softly. You could also try putting your baby over your shoulder and gently patting her back to soothe her.

If you’re breastfeeding, eating certain foods–such as those with strong odors–might cause your baby digestive discomfort which can result in arching while crying. 

If this is the case, talk to your doctor or pediatrician about what you should avoid eating if breastfeeding.

You might also consider talking with a lactation consultant. They will help you figure out if there’s something wrong with how you’re nursing and give suggestions for making it more comfortable for both of you.

Are There Any Other Reasons Why My Baby Is Arching With Back? Does She Have an Illness?

There are many possible reasons for arching with the back. The most common ones are stomach-related issues such as acid reflux, colic, and constipation (from gas), but there are many other possible reasons for your baby to be in pain. 

One is if she has an ear infection, which can make her arch backward or cry out when lying down on her back. 

She might also pull herself up by the chest when lying on her stomach and arching when reaching forward. 

She might even occasionally throw herself straight down when lying face up because of the muscle spasms caused by the inflammation of the middle ear space.

If you have any concerns about your child’s health, talk with one or more of her doctors immediately. 

It is important that you determine what is causing the arching so that you can get help for your baby right away instead of waiting around to see it goes away on its own.

What Are the Symptoms of Back Arching in Babies? What Causes My Baby to Have Discomfort?

The most likely cause for your child’s discomfort is gas, which can lead to constipation. 

Some other possibilities are acid reflux, colic, or even an ear infection. You will need to contact her doctor if she shows any signs of fever, listlessness, or irritability so you can get medical help right away. 

If you notice that she arches backward while lying on her stomach and pushing herself up you should also ask for help as soon as possible because this could be a sign of an issue with her spine.

How Do I Make My Baby Stop Arching His Back and Crying?

There is not much to do for your child other than to try and comfort her as much as possible. 

Swaddle her more loosely and offer gentle pats or tummy rubs if she is arching and crying while lying down. 

Hold her in a way that keeps her spine straight, especially if she’s holding herself up by the chest or throwing herself down because of muscle spasms from ear infections. 

If you think your baby might be experiencing pain due to an ear infection, hold him with his head tilted down so he doesn’t spit up anything into his ears.

Conclusion

Back arching happens when babies are learning to balance themselves on their heads. This is normal. 

However, if your baby experiences any of the symptoms described above you should speak with his doctor immediately. 

Additionally, pay attention to how long he sleeps at night and whether or not he wakes up after only an hour or two because this could be a sign of pain or discomfort that requires medical attention.