Understanding Why Babies Sleep with Arms Up

Understanding Why Babies Sleep with Arms Up

As new parents, you may have observed that your baby often sleeps with their arms raised, almost as if they are trying to grasp something. This appears peculiar to grown-ups, but is actually quite common among babies. In fact, numerous moms and dads mention that their infant prefers to sleep with their arms aloft, even when swaddled. But why do infants rest with their arms in the air?

Why Do Babies Sleep With Their Arms Up?

Babies sleep with arms up

Babies often sleep with their arms up in the air, which is referred to as the ‘starfish position’. This is quite common for healthy infants and can be attributed to the Moro reflex – a startle response babies exhibit when feeling startled or unsafe.

To make breathing easier, this reflex causes them to throw their limbs up, opening both the diaphragm and chest.

The Benefits of the Arms-Up Sleeping Position for Infants

Sleeping with arms outstretched can be highly beneficial for infants, providing them with greater tranquility, heightened temperature regulation and a jumpstart in physical development.


Combining relaxation with enhanced mobility, this position offers a cradle of comfort – one which encourages babies to drift off into deeper, longer sleep whilst allowing their arms and shoulders to move freely in order to gain strength. In short, it is a smart choice when it comes to sleeping positions.

How Can You Comfort a Baby That Startles in Their Sleep?

When a newborn startles in their sleep, it can be quite a harrowing experience for both parents and babies alike. Rather than succumbing to panic, however, there are several strategies one can employ to comfort their young one if they awaken in a startled state.

The most crucial step is for the parent to remain composed—this will exude security and safety to the infant. One can also lay a loving hand on their baby’s abdomen or back, singing a lullaby or producing white noise to help simplify the startle reflex. If a Moro reflex is particularly potent, then swaddling can serve to restrain the intensity of this reaction.

Ultimately, providing an optimal sleeping environment by setting up comfortable bedding and having an adequately aerated room is essential to giving your baby all the tools they need to achieve peaceful slumber.

How to Keep Your Baby Safe While Sleeping with Their Arms Up

When it comes to babies, safety is the top priority. It’s advised that infant sleep on their back since this is the safest position for them. Pillows and blankets should be avoided as they could obstruct their breathing and cause suffocation.


For peace of mind, parents should consult with their pediatrician if they have any concerns regarding sleep positions.

Is It Okay for Newborn To Sleep With Head to Side?

Newborn babies may develop a flat spot on the back or side of their head due to frequent sleeping in the same position for the first few months. This is typically caused by torticollis, which is often a result of their positioning in the womb. To reduce the incidence of this condition, parents can limit the amount of time baby spends on their back and provide extra neck support through tummy time and carrying them during the day.

Best Sleeping Position for Newborn

Babies sleep with arms up

As new parents, it is paramount to guarantee that your precious bundle of joy sleeps in a safe and comfortable position. When it comes to newborns, there is one perfect sleeping position:

The back Position

The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates for newborns to sleep on their backs, which is referred to as the supine position. This way, their airways remain open, preventing them from rebreathing their exhaled air and becoming susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

To maximize safety, place babies on firm and flat surfaces like a crib or bassinet – soft surfaces can increase suffocating risks and should be avoided. Put into practice, this sleeping strategy could mean the difference between life and death.


Q: Is it safe for babies to sleep with their arms up?
A: Yes, sleeping with their arms up is generally safe for babies.

Q: What are the benefits of the arms-up sleeping position for infants?
A: The arms-up sleeping position can help babies feel more relaxed and comfortable, regulate their body temperature, and promote healthy physical development.

Q: How can I keep my baby safe while sleeping with their arms up?
A: Always make sure your baby is sleeping on their back, avoid using blankets or pillows, and talk to your pediatrician if you’re concerned.

It is common to observe infants sleeping in the arms-up position, which presents multiple advantages: a heightened level of comfort, enhanced temperature regulation, and even richer physical development.

Although it is necessary to implement certain strategies to guarantee your baby’s safety, the arms-up position is generally secure and can contribute towards giving your little one the crucial rest they need to grow and flourish.