Research shows that this leg lifting and slamming behavior peaks at around 6 months and occurs 3 times more often in boys than girls, with 15% of children experiencing it. Preferable to screaming their heads off, babies engage in leg lifting and slamming to soothe themselves back to sleep.
First and foremost, young children are often restless sleepers, and even though their leg slamming can be unsettling for most parents to see, it is generally benign.
It is very uncommon for them to be hurt during this behavior, and it usually goes away on its own, and it’s rarely a sign of any health or developmental difficulty.
Although leg slamming is normal with most children, there are some circumstances that it is something more than just being cheeky.
In rare cases, it can be classified as a rare disorder known as Pediatric Periodic Limb Movement Disorder if it causes injury to your baby or disturbs her sleep accompanied by varied signs and symptoms that come and go, including the following.
- Behavioral health issues including anger, depression, anxiety, impulsiveness, irritability, hyperactivity, and poor concentration in older babies and teens too.
- Static kicking, jerky legs, twitching or flexing the foot, and other leg movements during unconscious sleep.
- Resisting bedtime.
- Restless sleep.
- Violently tossing and turning during sleep.
Both Pediatric Periodic Limb Movement and Restless Leg Syndrome are unconscious and uncontrollable urges to move the lower limbs.
The only difference is that when they happen, babies with PLMD signs and symptoms will be asleep and not aware that it is happening to them, while RLS symptoms come into play when children are awake.
For parents, learning the basics about leg lifting and slamming in babies before and during sleep can help them comprehend this behavior and know when it might be vital to see the child’s doctor.
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Why does leg slamming happen in infants?
It is unknown why babies lift their legs and slam them down or engage in other systematic movements before or during sleep.
Extensive research about it remains scarce, but there are some myths and theories about why leg lifting and slamming happen in babies.
- It’s a means of self-soothing – Even though the movement looks anything but calming to parents, its rhythmic nature and bang that sounds like you’ll find them thrown to the lounge from their beds is calming to them and helps babies to fall asleep.
- It’s a form of self-stimulation – Leg lifting and slamming and other related actions may be a way of stimulating their inner system which plays a role in childhood development that helps them comprehend movements and obtain environmental awareness.
- It’s a response to anxiety – Some researchers believe that these rhythmic movements are a basic way that young babies cope with anxiety even though evidence for this view is much limited.
When to see the pediatrician about your baby’s leg lifting and slamming
Leg lifting and slamming in babies is rarely a medical concern, but parents should talk about it with their child’s doctor if:
- There are any signs of injuries from the slamming or any other displayed repetitive movements.
- If the baby isn’t getting enough sleep at night or during her nap times and shows signs of inattention, impaired thinking, or lack of concentration during the day.
- If the baby’s lifting and slamming her legs take place throughout the day and not just before or during sleep.
- If the baby continues to lift and slams her legs after she is no longer a toddler.
Why does my baby kick his left leg?
If you notice your baby kicking or stretching his legs, this movement strengthens the muscles preparing your infant to will over, usually around 4 to 6 months of age.
It’s important to never leave your baby unattended on the bed, changing table, or any other high surfaces as even very young kids can roll over from time to time.
Why do babies slap their legs down?
That uncomfortable feeling in the baby’s leg, usually in the evening or at night that is relieved by movement, is called the Restless Leg Syndrome, and it can make it hard for a child to fall asleep when they should or to fall back to sleep when they wake up during the night.
Infants may slap their legs to relieve the discomfort of the RLG, which may have a significant impact on cognition, mood, sleep, as well as daytime educational and behavioral functioning.
What does it mean when a baby straightens her legs?
All babies stretch and straighten their legs, and you can tell if it is a good stretch like when she stretches, grunts, pushes a bit, then hooray! Poops. That’s a good stretch.
But when your baby is struggling with something, you will notice her grunting, pushing, crying, but no burp, no poop.
If your little one’s leg lifting and slamming doesn’t affect their sleep or cause an injury, you don’t need to take any specific actions because these behaviors normally go away on their own over time.
Parents who worry about their child’s leg lifting and slamming can follow the basic safety measures to decrease the risk of injury by making sure that the crib or bed is well built that meets the National Safety standards and regularly checking for damages, and making sure the screws are right and can keep the baby’s bed stable.
In general, because leg lifting and slamming in babies is harmless, there’s no need for parents to intervene and try to stop it. Doing so may affect your child’s sleep and can also lead to frustrations on your end since most of these little ones will quickly revert to their soothing rhythmic movements.
I am sure there are many normal yet bizarre things your little LO is displaying that you’d wish to share with us. Does anyone else out there have a little leg slummer?