Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Arching, What Does It Mean and How to Help

Does your baby arch their body when upset? It's not unusual, but it can be scary. In very young and early babies arching is a sign of an immature nervous system. We are all born with a set of reflexes that help us fight gravity. With preemies, because of their early arrival, their muscle are weak and they have a hard time moving against gravity. Those reflexes allow them to "cheat" and they can use the reflexes to move. Unfortunately, the reflexes only allow certain movements and one of them is arching. The reflex starts at the head and neck, so the best way to minimize it is to curl your baby into a ball. It often helps to rock the baby and hold them against your body so that they relax. The strongest position for the reflex is supine (back lying). Sidelying is a wonderful position if you can place them against a firm, cushioned surface. Sidelying also helps them get their hands to midline which is soothing to them.

I hope this information has been helpful. Please contact me if you have questions or would like to hear about other topics.

Vickie PT