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6 Reasons Why a Toddler Will Flinch

    Toddlers are some of the most interesting people. This age is completely engaging. During the 1-3 age mark, parents take note of all kinds of new behaviors from their child. They grow so quickly from a baby just learning to say a few words and take a few steps to a tiny person with a mind of their own.

    There is no doubt that flinching is quite alarming. We will discuss this behavior more than the other two mentioned. Flinching can have many root causes. This is not as easy to overcome. The tips previously mentioned are simple and can be done with little to no effort. The tips for reducing flinching require a lot more dedication and participation.

    Reasons a toddler will flinch:

    • Hypnic Jerk During Sleep
    • Fear
    • Pain or Wincing
    • Cringing
    • Autism
    • Child Abuse or Neglect

    Hypnic Jerk During Sleep

    We have all had this happen to us at one point or another. While sleeping, you may be so deep in sleep that you jerk or move. Often you will experience a dream where you are falling or running when this occurs. This is normal. These jerks are typically nothing to be worried about and do not occur frequently. If you notice your child jerking a lot in their sleep, then reach out to the pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical concerns.

    Some things can trigger a hypnic jerk during sleep:

    • Sleep deprivation: can be caused by teething.
    • Overexertion: a long day of play can cause the muscles to jerk and flinch when finally at rest.
    • Anxiety or stress: could be related to other mentioned causes of flinching and carry over to sleep time.


    Fear is a common reason a toddler will flinch. It is just a reaction. You may be out and about enjoying your day, and suddenly, your little one jerks back. He or she saw a bug or something that startled them. This is nothing to be worried about, and as new things become normal to your toddler, this fear flinches will happen less often.

    Pain or Wincing

    Toddlers will flinch if they are in pain. A flinch or wince is typical during times of vaccinations at the doctor’s office or if they get hurt outside. Your toddler may flinch when you attempt to clean a scrape or apply a band-aid. This is normal behavior, and children outgrow it.


    As adults, we are grossed out by some things and cringe or flinch because it is a knee-jerk reaction. The same is true for toddlers. Perhaps your toddler is so grossed out by a frog or something they are shown that they flinch away from it. It is just a natural way of showing dislike for something. This is nothing to be concerned about.


    Autism can produce flinching as a symptom. This is typically accustomed to other obsessive behaviors as well as speech and learning delays. Autism is a condition that your pediatrician will evaluate. If your child is showing several behavioral and sensory concerns, be sure to bring this up with your family doctor.

    Abuse or Neglect

    Children who are abused or neglected, often shy away from touch and will flinch. If you suspect a toddler is a victim of child abuse or neglect, it is imperative to involve child services and law enforcement. Children hit and abused are sensitive to movements around them and flinch or cry often.

    These above mentioned six reasons why a toddler will flinch should give insight into what is going on with your toddler or toddlers, you know. Most of the reasons for flinching have no cause for alarm and can quickly be settled. Never hesitate to contact the professionals when it comes to flinching that is medically or otherwise concerning.

    1 thought on “6 Reasons Why a Toddler Will Flinch”

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