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Understanding Why Your Baby Shakes When Waking Up

The sight of your little one shaking when they wake up can stir a wave of concern and confusion, especially for new parents. From chin quivers and jerky arm movements to trembling hands and twitchy legs, these quirky movements in infants often raise a myriad of questions. As a parent, distinguishing between normal and problematic behavior can be quite a challenge. In this post, we delve into the causes behind why a baby shakes when waking up and how to differentiate between normalcy and potential health issues.

Is It Normal for Babies to Shake When Waking Up?

Yes, it is usually normal for babies to shake or twitch upon waking up. This behavior is often due to a phenomenon called sleep myoclonus, which causes involuntary muscle jolts when a baby is falling asleep or waking up. Additionally, various developmental milestones can cause different body parts to twitch. However, if your baby’s shaking is accompanied by other unusual symptoms, it’s best to consult with a medical professional to rule out any potential health issues.

Exploring the Causes of Baby Shakes When Waking Up

Babies shaking or twitching as they wake up is not an uncommon phenomenon. There are several reasons that could explain why your baby shakes when waking up:

Sleep Myoclonus

A primary reason could be a condition known as nocturnal myoclonus or sleep myoclonus. This condition typically causes shaking movements when babies are falling asleep or waking up. If you notice your baby shaking upon awakening, they could be experiencing this.

Developmental Milestones

Babies also exhibit different body twitches corresponding with developmental milestones. For example, head twitching during their first few weeks of life is common and a part of preparing the baby to hold up his or her head. Similarly, when a baby gets older, you may notice twitching of fingers and wrists, indicating the development of fine motor skills. Such types of baby shakes are normal and often a sign of various developmental milestones.

Baby Shakes When Waking Up: Normal or Cause for Concern?

Typically, babies shaking when they wake up is a normal behavior and shouldn’t worry parents. It’s expected to subside by the time the baby reaches one year old. However, in some cases, these shakes can indicate a potential health concern, particularly when accompanied by other symptoms.

Does This Happen to Other Babies?

This behavior is common in babies and often a part of developmental milestones. So, if you’ve been wondering whether this only happens to your baby, rest assured, many children experience body shakes when they wake up. As long as your baby doesn’t have any underlying health conditions, these behaviors are completely normal.

When Should Baby Shakes Be a Cause for Concern?

While shaking is generally part of developmental stages, if your baby shows other symptoms along with the shakes, it could suggest a health concern requiring medical intervention. It’s crucial to stay alert and observant, to differentiate between normal and potentially concerning behavior.

Why Does My Baby Randomly Tremble?

Babies often exhibit random trembles or quivers due to their developing nervous systems. These trembles can be caused by various factors, such as:

  • Sleep Myoclonus: As mentioned earlier, sleep myoclonus is a condition where the baby’s muscles jerk involuntarily, especially when falling asleep or waking up.
  • Excitement or Startle Response: Babies often tremble out of excitement or in response to sudden noises or movements.
  • Motor Development: As your baby grows and their motor skills develop, they may exhibit shakes or tremors.

However, if the trembling is persistent, severe, or accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical attention.

Why Is My 12 Month Old Shaking After Waking Up?

If your 12-month-old baby is shaking after waking up, it’s likely still due to sleep myoclonus. However, by this age, the frequency of such shakes should start to decrease. If the shaking is continuous, intense, or coupled with other concerning signs like fever, lethargy, or lack of responsiveness, you should consult your pediatrician immediately. These could be signs of a more serious neurological condition.

Why Is My Baby Twitching While Awake?

While awake, your baby might twitch for several reasons:

  • Developmental Milestones: Certain twitches can signify that your baby’s motor skills are developing. For example, twitching of the fingers and wrists can indicate that your baby is working on their fine motor skills.
  • Startle Response: The “Moro” or startle reflex can cause your baby to twitch. This reflex occurs when your baby is surprised by a loud sound or movement.
  • Physical Needs: Your baby might twitch when they are hungry, tired, or need a diaper change.

Again, if the twitching is severe, doesn’t seem to improve, or is associated with other concerning symptoms, it’s wise to get a medical opinion.

A Vital Note

Even though baby shakes when waking up are usually normal, it doesn’t rule out the possibility of a health problem. Some specialists suggest that baby shakes could also signify seizures. If your baby’s shakes are coupled with symptoms like staring, rapid blinking, jerking movements, or not responding to noise, it’s possible that your baby might be experiencing seizures, also known as partial seizures.

In such scenarios, it’s advisable to consult with a medical professional. A doctor can examine your baby and determine whether the shakes are normal or indicative of a more serious issue. If there is an underlying condition, they can recommend appropriate treatment. Can Help

A baby’s sleep pattern can be influenced by many factors, including their physical movements. At, we understand that your baby’s shaking movements upon waking can cause you to worry about their sleep quality and overall wellbeing. We offer expert guidance and resources to help parents navigate the world of baby sleep. Whether it’s understanding why your baby shakes when waking up or seeking solutions to other sleep-related concerns, is here to help.


It’s in a baby’s nature to display a variety of behaviors, including shaking. Most of these actions are normal and a part of their development. However, some could indicate an underlying health condition. It’s essential to keep a close watch on your baby for any potential health problems, enabling prompt medication and treatment. This guide should aid you in understanding when baby shakes are harmless and when they might need further investigation.

2 thoughts on “Understanding Why Your Baby Shakes When Waking Up”

  1. This article really brought me back to when my little rascal, Sammy, was a tiny baby and had little shakes when waking up. I can tell you, it’s a sight that can sure make a new mom or dad a little anxious. But don’t worry, I’ve got some things that worked for me that I’d like to share.

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    Firstly, keeping a calm and soothing environment can really help in reducing the startle reflexes in babies. I used this Skip Hop Portable Baby Soother that has a variety of lullabies and nature sounds, and it’s also portable. It was like a soothing soundtrack for Sammy’s snoozing sessions and helped his waking up be less jerky.

    While observing Sammy’s twitching, I noticed that swaddling him snugly in his HALO Sleepsack Swaddle really made a difference. It provided him with a sense of security, reduced his startle reflex, and his wake-up shakes decreased significantly. Plus, it was a safe alternative to loose blankets.

    Just as the article points out, some baby shakes are part of their motor development. To encourage this development, I got the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy. It has easy to press buttons for little fingers and helped Sammy with his fine motor skills. Not to mention, it kept him entertained during tummy time!

    And for those moments when you’re unsure if it’s just baby shakes or something more serious, I found having the Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor really helpful. With its video and sound monitoring, it allowed me to keep a close eye on Sammy, even from a distance. I could monitor his movements closely and share the videos with his pediatrician if needed.

    But remember folks, no product can substitute the expertise of a healthcare professional. If you’re ever worried about your baby’s shakes or any other behavior, it’s always a good idea to consult with your pediatrician. They’ve seen it all and they are there to help. Trust your instincts, you got this!

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