March 19, 2023

Why does your baby ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜ Their Fists

Why does your baby ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜ Their Fists

In the early weeks a ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜed fist is just one of the first several newborn reflexes you’ll notice. But this fist ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜ is a normal infant reaction, one of several motions that help to develop your baby’s future fine motor skills. Here’s more about why your baby ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜes their fists and the other common infant behaviors you might spy.

How can I get my baby to relax their ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜed hands?

You usually don’t need to get your baby to relax a ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜed fist because this reflex will naturally fade away around five to six months of age. If your baby is ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜing fists because of stress or colic, try to soothe with some swaddling, singing and shushing. And, of course, if it’s feeding time, offer the breast or bottle. As soon as you start, you should see their hands open up and relax.

You can play around with the palmar grasp by placing your finger in your baby’s hand and watching it close (you’ll be surprised how strong their grip is!). A similar motion occurs on infant feet (it’s called the plantar grasp). Stroke the sole and watch those tiny toes curl into themselves.

Why might my baby ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜ their fists?

ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜed fists are a neurologic response that occur as your baby’s nervous system continues to develop. Your infant’s tightly squeezed fists, along with bent elbows, arms and legs, are also a leftover in-utero habit when they were folded into a tight fetal ball. Hungry babies will also ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜ their fists – and if your baby has a ᴄᴀsᴇ ᴏf ᴄᴏʟɪᴄ, watch for this same motion.

Should I ever worry if my baby ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜes their firsts?
It’s normal to worry about your baby’s development from time to time or to compare their progress to other babies in your family and friend circle. But remember, at your baby’s regular well-visits, your child’s provider is checking every reflex as part of a thorough medical exam to be sure each one is responding appropriately to various kinds of stimuli.

But if you or your baby’s healthcare provider notices that a particular reflex like ᴄʟᴇɴᴄʜed fists is hanging on for longer than normal, it could signal a problem with your baby’s nervous system. In rare cases, exaggerated reflexes could point to cerebral palsy or hypertonia, which is stiff muscle tone. You can always ask your baby’s pediatricia

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