Arm Flapping in Babies – Is it Normal?

Jul 24, 12 Arm Flapping in Babies – Is it Normal?

As a parent, it’s natural to worry about your baby’s behavior and habits. Worrying can be frightening especially for new parents, which makes it difficult to know what’s “normal”. One behavior that some parents have expressed concern about is “arm flapping”. Some babies may flap or beat their arms against their bodies or other objects. As a parent, you might be asking yourself – Is this normal?

Arm Flapping and Autism – Why Parents Worry

The main reason why many parents worry about arm flapping in babies is because the term “arm flapping” is often used to describe one of the behavioral traits seen in children with autism. Here is a video of what arm flapping in an autistic child looks like. Usually the arms are raised at the sides, and the lower half of the arm “flaps”, often when the child is excited or agitated.

Arm Flapping in Babies

Thankfully, most forms of arm flapping in babies are perfectly normal. Babies under a year old are still learning how to interact with their surroundings, and may “beat” or “flap” their arms while perfecting their motor skills. Some babies flap their arms while feeding, or when they get excited.

Right now, there is no evidence that a baby that displays arm flapping will grow up to have autism. Most symptoms of autism appear around 18 months of age (though may appear slightly earlier or later).

When to Worry

If your baby displays uncontrollable twitching limbs or irregular spastic movements, it may signify a neurological issue. Some babies may twitch when they have a fever-related seizure, which may occur when a baby’s temperature is elevated. If your baby’s behavior concerns you or seems out of the ordinary, it’s always best to schedule a visit with your pediatrician. If your baby has a fever, it’s always a good precaution to stop by the ER (if your pediatrician isn’t available right away).


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