Baby’s Best Position: Why Babies Sleep with Their Arms Up

Baby's Best Position: Why Babies Sleep with Their Arms Up

As new parents, we often find ourselves gazing lovingly at our sleeping babies. In these quiet moments, we may notice some peculiarities in their sleeping positions, such as the tendency to sleep with their arms up. If you’ve ever wondered why do babies sleep with their arms up, you’re not alone.

This comprehensive guide explores the reasons behind this adorable sleeping position, its implications, benefits, and related concerns.

Is It Normal for Babies to Sleep with Their Arms Up?

Yes, it is perfectly normal for babies to sleep with their arms up. This position, also known as the “starfish” or “Superman” position, is one of the most common sleeping positions observed in infants.

Many babies find this position the most comfortable and natural, especially during the early months of life.

The Main Reasons Behind the Arms-Up Sleeping Position

There are several reasons why babies may sleep with their arms up. Let’s take a closer look at these reasons and their implications.

Comfort and Familiarity

One of the primary reasons babies sleep with their arms up is that they find this position naturally comfortable.

When babies are in the womb, they are curled up in a fetal position with their arms close to their chest. This position is familiar and comforting to them, and many babies continue sleeping in it after birth.

Sleeping with their arms up allows them to stretch and relax, contributing to a more comfortable and restful sleep.

Moro Reflex and Security

The Moro reflex, or the startle reflex, is an involuntary response part of a baby’s developing nervous system.

This reflex typically diminishes as the baby grows and their nervous system matures, usually disappearing between 4 to 6 months of age.

When a baby experiences the Moro reflex, they may extend their arms wide and sometimes raise them. Sleeping with their arms up makes babies feel more secure by preventing the Moro reflex from waking them.

Personality and Development

The way a baby sleeps can reveal hints about their personality. For instance, those who sleep in the starfish position will likely become helpful and friendly people, opening their arms wide to embrace others and make more friends.

While it may be too early to determine a baby’s personality based on their sleeping position, it’s interesting.

Furthermore, babies with their arms up tend to wake up more often and consistently. They may have a more challenging time returning to sleep once awakened.

Different Baby Sleeping Positions

Apart from the starfish position, there are several other sleeping positions that infants may adopt:

  • Log Position: In this position, the baby sleeps on one side with both arms on their sides. If co-sleeping with you, they may lie horizontally across the middle of your bed, remaining stationary.
  • Soldier Position: The baby lies on their back with their arms by their side. This position may indicate a more reserved personality.
  • Contortionist Position: In this position, the baby adopts various shapes, often with strange formations, and may toss and turn throughout the night.
  • Yearner Position: Babies in this position sleep on one side with their arms moving forward. If co-sleeping, they may wrap their arms around you, seeking warmth and relaxation.
  • Free Fall Position: In this position, the baby sleeps on their front with their arms around the pillow and their face on one side. Experts believe that babies who sleep in this position may be more adventurous.

Related Sleeping Concerns

While it’s essential to understand why babies sleep with their arms up, being aware of other related sleeping concerns is also crucial.

Temperature Regulation

Babies may raise their arms during sleep to help regulate their body temperature. Raising their arms can help circulate air and cool them down if they feel too warm.

Conversely, they may lower their hands to retain warmth if they feel cold. As a parent, it’s essential to ensure the room temperature is appropriate for your baby and that their clothing suits the environment.

Startle Reflex

The startle reflex, or Moro reflex, can cause babies to wake up suddenly during sleep. This reflex is a normal part of a baby’s nervous system development and usually fades by 4 to 6 months.

However, until it diminishes, the startle reflex can disrupt a baby’s sleep. Sleeping with their arms up can help babies feel more secure and less likely to be startled awake.

Safe Sleep Guidelines for Babies

Ensuring your baby’s safety during sleep is critical. Follow these guidelines to create a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for your little one:

  • Place your baby on their back to sleep, as this position reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Use a firm, flat surface for your baby to sleep on, such as a crib or bassinet.
  • To avoid potential hazards, keep the sleeping area free of loose bedding, pillows, and toys.
  • Ensure the room temperature is appropriate for your baby, typically around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Dress your baby in light, breathable clothing to prevent overheating.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine to help your baby develop healthy sleep habits.

Swaddling with Arms Up

Swaddling is a popular technique to help babies feel secure and sleep better. However, not all babies prefer the traditional arms-down swaddle. If your baby likes sleeping with their arms up, consider these alternative swaddling methods:

Angel Wrap Swaddle

This swaddling technique, also known as the “Australian swaddle,” allows babies to have their arms above their heads while still controlling the startle reflex.

To swaddle your baby with the angel wrap, lay a large muslin blanket (such as these from Aden + Anais) on a flat surface and fold the upper part horizontally.

Place your baby in the middle so their head is poking out of the upper part. Slide your baby’s right arm into the pocket created by the horizontal fold and tuck the fabric under their left side. Repeat with the left arm and tuck the remaining fabric under your baby’s body.

Bat Swaddling Sleepsack

If you prefer a more straightforward approach, consider using a sleepsack explicitly designed for babies who like to keep their arms up, such as the Love to Dream Swaddle.

This sleepsack is easy to use and works well for babies who break free from traditional swaddles. Place your baby inside the sleepsack and zip it up. You can also unzip from the bottom for diaper changes without removing the entire swaddle.

Changing Sleep Preferences as Babies Grow

As babies grow and develop, their sleep position preferences may change. Observing your baby’s sleep positions and adjusting accordingly to ensure their safety and comfort is essential.

Always follow safe sleep guidelines and consult with your pediatrician if you have concerns about your baby’s sleep habits.

Creating a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

To help your baby sleep well, consider the following tips for creating a comfortable sleeping environment:

  • Dress your baby in light, breathable clothing to prevent overheating.
  • Use plain linens without any loose bedding or potential hazards.
  • Maintain a proper room temperature, ideally around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Create a peaceful surrounding with soft, soothing music or white noise at a low volume.
  • Establish a bedtime routine, such as a warm bath, gentle massage, and a goodnight kiss.
  • Remove any distractions from the sleeping area, such as toys or bright lights.
  • Encourage a consistent sleep schedule to help your baby develop a healthy sleep routine.


In conclusion, it’s perfectly normal for babies to sleep with their arms up in the air. This position is comfortable and natural and helps to prevent the Moro reflex from startling them awake.

As parents, we must observe our babies’ sleeping positions and make adjustments to ensure their safety and comfort during sleep.

By following safe sleep guidelines and creating a comfortable sleeping environment, we can help our little ones develop healthy sleep habits and enjoy peaceful nights of rest.


Is it OK for baby to sleep with arms up?

Yes, it is perfectly okay for a baby to sleep with their arms up. Many babies naturally prefer this sleeping position as it allows them to self-soothe and feel secure. It’s important to ensure a safe sleep environment regardless of the sleeping position.

Why babies keep their arms up?

Babies may keep their arms up while sleeping due to the Moro reflex, also known as the startle reflex. This reflex causes their arms to jolt upward, and some babies find comfort in sleeping with their arms raised. It is a normal part of their development.

Why do babies sleep in frog position?

The frog position, where babies have their legs bent and splayed apart, is a common sleeping position for infants. This position allows for natural hip flexion and helps to alleviate pressure on the hips. It also promotes better digestion and can be comforting for babies.

What does sleeping with arms above head mean?

When babies sleep with their arms above their head, it often indicates a state of relaxation and comfort. It suggests that the baby feels secure and at ease in their sleep. This sleeping position is a natural preference for some babies and is nothing to be concerned about.

What age does the Moro reflex disappear?

The Moro reflex typically peaks around the first month and starts to disappear after about two months. However, it is normal for this reflex to persist until 4 months of age.

Is it safe for babies to sleep with their arms up?

Yes, it is perfectly normal and safe for babies to sleep with their arms up. This position is comfortable and helps prevent the Moro reflex from startling them awake.

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