Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


How (and Why) to Count Baby’s Kicks


Keeping track of baby’s movements let’s you know she’s healthy

by Diana Kelly


Those first butterfly-like flutters of a baby moving in your belly are a magical moment, but it may take many more weeks to feel your baby kick and jab in earnest. First-time moms often don’t notice their baby being active until 25 weeks along, while moms having second or third babies note movement closer to 18 weeks of pregnancy. A little later, around 28 weeks, you can set aside time to start tracking your baby’s fetal movements, also known as counting your baby’s kicks. Kick counting is often recommended for women with high-risk pregnancies, but it's a great quiet activity to help any mom-to-be bond with her baby and note any significant changes in the baby's activity level.


How to Count Kicks

To get ready to feel baby’s kicks, lie down or sit in the position that’s most comfortable for you. Some pregnant women prefer resting on their left sides while monitoring movements. This allows for the best blood flow, which could lead to a more active baby.

Usually, your baby will be active around the same time(s) each day. Count the movements you feel; you’re looking for at least 10 in an hour, according to Jennifer Wu, MD, an ob/gyn at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, NY. The movements can be kicks, swishes, rolls, or jabs. Keep a log of the amount of kicks you feel, if it helps (you can do this using the calendar entry in our I’m Expecting app for iOS and Android). If you get 10 kicks or movements in 10 minutes, then you can go about your other activities — though you may just want to relax and enjoy your baby! Since babies sleep in 40-minute cycles, if you rest for 2 hours, say from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and only feel 10 movements during the hour from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., that’s OK, too.

You may have heard to eat some food or drink a glass of water to spark baby’s movements. But Wu doesn’t suggest having a snack or juice to bring about baby’s activity, if eating and drinking aren’t part of your regular routine during that time. “There’s no need to cause a blood sugar spike for you or the baby in order to count your baby’s movements,” she says.


When to Call Your OB

The practice of monitoring baby’s movements will help you get an idea of the typical times your baby is active, so you’ll know if something is “off.” If your baby usually moves around a lot after breakfast, for example, and you don’t notice movement one day during that time, or he isn’t moving around as much as usual, give your doctor a call. She might have you come in to her office to monitor the baby and make sure everything is OK.


Published June 25, 2015.


Diana Kelly is a New York City–based writer and editor with more than 10 years’ experience covering health topics for women’s and men’s health websites, including Follow her on Twitter, @DianaKelly. 

Reviewed by Susan Spencer, MSN, RNC, IBCLC on June 5, 2015.
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