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Women's Health: Postpartum Community
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Avatar universal

Baby clenching fists, what could that be?

Hi, everyone.  I have a one year old niece (a cutie, might I add) who is teething very actively right now.  Lately, she's gotten into the habit of clenching her little fists, tightening her facial muscles and shaking her upper body as if she's very mad at something.  My sister has taken her to see a neurologist and the doctor kept reassuring my sister that the baby's nervous system is developing normally and nothing is wrong with her but it still worries us that she does that.  My sister noticed that she does it when her teeth start erupting.  Has anyone else experienced that with their baby?  Your response is much appreciated!!
64 Responses
Avatar universal
It may be a coping method she uses for the pain. My DD is three & clenches her teeth when she is just about to go to sleep. I would say it is normal, it might just be her way of dealing with the pain instead of screaming!
Avatar universal
My younger brother used to do that and he would rock back and forth. He is 19 now and doing just fine. He would do it to go to sleep or when he was mad. IF just relaxed him I guess. Good luck
Avatar universal
My son used to do that. We just thought it was really cute and would laugh at it. He's 2 1/2 now and completely fine!  He's actually better than fine. The dr says he's at a 4 yr old level with a lot of his motor skills and development, so I would not worry.
Avatar universal
Yes, exactly! She does that as well.  She starts laughing when my sister tells her to stop.  She finds it funny.
Avatar universal
She could be doing it to cope with the pain.  

My DS, when he was little, he started teething at 3.5 months, he would butt heads with everything... us, the floor, furniture, everything.
Avatar universal
Tell your sister not to stress about it. Sometimes my son still does it-on purpose now -and his face gets red also.  Its really funny actually..and very cute!!
and some times he will make his teeth chatter when he does it.
Avatar universal
Thank you ladies for your responses.  You def put my mind at ease.  I will definitely relate this to my sister and tell her that it's normal.  :):):)
Avatar universal
My niece has been doing that since she was little as well. It may be a method of coping with the pain. Now she does it when she is mad though as well as when she is in pain.
Avatar universal
My niece has been doing that since she was little as well. It may be a method of coping with the pain. Now she does it when she is mad though as well as when she is in pain.
Avatar universal
Hi, I just came across these messages and wanted to know if your niece is fine now. My 9 month old son is also doing this exact same thing a lot these days and I am very worried. I am slightly relieved to read all your messages but I just wanted to know how your niece is, since these messages are from last year. Thanks!
Oh, and congratulations on your baby :)
Avatar universal
My 18 month old son does this.  I knew it was teething related, and he  has finally cut all his teeth just recently.  However, I find him still doing this teeth clenching and body stiffening thing.  I have started to wonder if it's some sort of anxiety thing?  He's not hyper active, and his development is right on as well as advanced in some milestones.  When he does "the clench", he only does it for about 3 full seconds then he lets go and it's as if nothing happend.  It does have me curious and a little concerned.
Avatar universal
My daughter ever since she was about 9 months old would clench her fists and move her legs in a stretching posistion.  The doctors tell me it's normal.  She wants attention, however she still does this and will be 4 years old in a few months.  It bothers me. She seems to do this when she's bored.  She tells me she does it because it's her "Action", in exact words. I'm concerned she will go to school and do this at her desk. she pulls her fists to her chest and sweats. She normally does in either in the grocery cart, in the car or even just at home sometimes when I'm trying to do my household chores. Can anyone relate? It's as if it bothers me more than her but i don't wan't her to do this when she goes to school?  I hope it's just an attention thing????????????????
503105 tn?1210299876
My 6mth old has just started clenching her fists.  Plunket tell me it's a normal developmental milestone as she is learning to use her hands and getting used to the muscles.  They said it can go on for some time but didn't say how long.  I'd ask the GP when you're next at the doctors if your 4yr old is still doing it.
Avatar universal
This sounds exactly like what I am researching. My infant is 8 months old and this started probably about a month ago. At first it was just while eating at times in her high chair... but now it happens also at times in her car seat or else where. It seems like she is just unhappy with where she's at or sometimes it's when she is fighting sleep. Even though this all reassured me... I am still worried. She turns her face to the side, turns red, tightens her arm and leg muscles, even the stomach... almost as though trying to poop even... but she's not. The one thing is she doesn't hold her hands really in a fist, but more so bent inwards with her arms bent. Alsmost as someone with a diability. This is what really scares me. Guess I am just looking for some more reassurance. She'll do it everyday for a week or so... and then we won't see it for a while. You can usually snap her out of it by distracting her, but then she will sometimes go back into it. I am just so scared. He next md appt is in July. It's very perplexing.
537136 tn?1264941144
my daughter used to do the exact same thing and then my 2 nieces started doing it to copy her, it just phased off all of them so id say not to worry x
Avatar universal
My 9 month old has been doing the same thing. I noticed it when she was going through a period where she was really teething. She still does it on occasion, sometimes it just seems like she's frustrated. I asked my dr at the 9 month check-up and she said her youngest son had done the same thing and that they would call it "the mighty man". It seemed as though there was no cause for concern.
Avatar universal
THANK YOU! I was researching this and found this site and feel sooooo much better! My daughter is 8 mos and has been doing this for about a week.  It has been driving me nuts thinking of all the things it could be! So happy to see that it is normal and has happened to a lot of you! Glad not to be the only one that was going crazy!!! :) Good luck to all of you and take care!
Avatar universal
I'm soo glad that I read this post. My baby has been doing this since 6 months old when she started to teeth. I guess it is related. I asked the dr at ther 6 & 9 month and he told me it may be "acid reflux"?? She hasn't been doing it as often but the last 2 weeks, the daycare told me she does this at changing time and more often. She clenches her fists and holds them to her chest, and she crosses her legs and stretches them out. She does this until she turns red. If you distract her, she will stop but then may continue for a few more seconds. After that lil episode she just continues to play. Anyone experience this?
Avatar universal
Hi, I was just reading your post and I am in an exactly similar situation, with my daughter who is 4 months old. She recently started doing what you described, crossing and stretching her legs out and getting red in her face. With one arm she is pulling her trousers up and with the other one she is either pulling her hair or rubbing her eye. I took her to the GP and she said all was normal. She does have a reflux and the GP suggested this might be what caused her behaviour. She also just started teething and taking everything into her mouth. Anyway, I am worried of what it could be and just wanted to check with you and see how your daughter is doing and if she is not doing this "thing" anymore. I would appreciate any kind of advice/suggestion. Thank you!
Avatar universal
My 10 yr. old grandson walks around with this fists bawled up all the time. He is very smart and does have OC to some degree. I am concerned and my daughter doesnt think that I should  not worry about it. Can anyone help me? I dont get an answer on WebMD or any other site. Thank you for your comments and answers.

GrandmaNina
Avatar universal
  Just noticed this thread was from 2006. Would be interested to hear if your baby turned out fine. A lot of people in this thread are describing slightly different things. I think our 9 month old has exactly the same habit as your baby did. She raises her hands, clenches her face and upper body, but shakes very fast for about 2 seconds or less. Only about 3 times a day. I was worried, but the internet has eased my worries a little. Also the fact my girlfriends other daughter and her sister and neice did the same thing and intelligent healthy girls now. Maybe its a genetical thing to do with teething or being over excited. To aid other worried parents, I am going to put a few key word here to aid other people searching.
Tremors , shakes , baby , clenching , shivering , excitement , shuddering
Would love to hear from any other parants with this. Andrew_langton***@****
Avatar universal
I am SO RELIEVED to have found this!!  Reading all of this has brought tears to my eyes because of the relief i just got from reading all of your posts.  My daughter has been doing the stretch thing where she crosses her legs at the ankles and clenches her fist since she was about 6 months old.  She is now 20 months old and is still doing this.  When she was 13 months, I was so concerned, i took her into the doctor and she had no clue why she was doing that and never heard of any other babies doing this.  She thought it had something to do with having fluid in her brains.  So she had me go to the children's hospital to get an cat scan on my one year old and luckily  there was no swelling in her brain.  My daughter has gone through so many tests in order for the doctor to figure out what is wrong with her.  and eventually, she told me to let her continue to do it because she seems to enjoy it.  i stress every day when i see her do this and thought i was the only one with this problem.  Thank you all so much for your experiences with this. i am glad to know the children came out perfectly normal.  Now i can live knowing there is nothing wrong with her.  
Avatar universal
My 5 month old daughter just recently started doing this as well. She will clench her jaw sometimes with her tounge sticking out sometimes not, and ball her fists and stiffen up. It's only for a second or two, but she does it every few minutes sometimes every few seconds. There is no noise or redness in her face. She just started teething so I assume there is some sort of coorelation since most everyone seems to be saying that they are teething. Taking her to the dr this month, and I will repost if they say something is wrong.
Avatar universal
I just wanted to say what a relief it is to find that others have little ones that are doing the same type of thing!  I've been doing research to try and see if this was something I needed to take to take LO in to the DR for and I'm so glad to have found this site.  The only other thing I've found similar was Infant Spasms which is a type of infant epilepsy!  The symptoms weren't really what he's been doing and after seeing videos I know it is something different.  He just clenches his fists and kind of squishes his face for a second or two like he's really excited or stressed!  To those who have posted, how are your LOs doing now??  Is it something they outgrow??  I'm just curious to know more.  Our LO has been doing it off and on since about 4 months and he is now 9 months.  Thanks for any advice!
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