Do You Know Why Babies Jaw Quiver & Tremble?
Parents are very astute when it comes to their babies. Hyper vigilance is something I experienced and most parents do as well. It is biologically normal and something that helps our little ones thrive and survive. I often see babies with jaws quivering. Parents usually have noticed it and wonder why it is happening. Is it a major concern or can it be ignored? The answer usually lies somewhere between the two.
Reasons Why Babies Jaws Quivers
There are several reasons why a babies jaw may quiver or tremble:
- Normal Development: Some infants’ jaws may quiver or tremble during the first few weeks of life as their nervous system is still developing. This is often referred to as a “neonatal tremor” and usually resolves on its own within a few months.
- Hunger: An infant’s jaw may quiver or tremble when they are hungry or anticipating feeding. This is because the muscles in their jaw may be contracting in preparation for suckling.
- Cold: If an infant is cold, their muscles may contract and cause their jaw to quiver or tremble.
- Neurological Problems: In rare cases, a quivering or trembling jaw may be a sign of a more serious neurological problem, such as a seizure disorder or a neuromuscular condition.
- Medications: Certain medications can cause tremors or shaking, and this can include medication that an infant is taking.
A baby’s jaw can quiver during crying during the first 2 months. This is normal and reflexive. This trembling can occur in other parts of the body as well. However, this is not normally the reason I see babies having trembling jaws. Normally I see this when a baby is changing positions or has just fed. The degree and the frequency tend to match with feeding difficulties and overwork of the jaw. The jaw quiver, or trembling, in this case, can improve in two ways. The first is to wait for the child to get stronger. The second is to help them work more efficiently.
Your Baby Will* Get Stronger
The asterisk is because most infants will grow and develop. Ignoring a child’s hunger and doing nothing as they drop down, or off, the growth chart will not help them get stronger. At about 4 to 5 months they will change how they feed as they lose fat in their cheeks. At this point, other muscles of the mouth and jaw do more. This strategy falls into the hope for the best category. Sometimes it works but the journey is filled with lost sleep, uncomfortable infants, and worry.
Babies Can Improve Efficiency
Babies learn and adapt rapidly. We see this in their growth and as they go through periods of developing new skills almost daily. Even if you wait for weeks or months most babies can become more efficient. This can be done by reducing tension and substitution patterns and curing them to change how to move. The combination improves tongue motion and jaw control. It reduces compensation from the head and neck. Finally, it reduces compensations that are contributing to the overuse of the jaw. Combined this helps little ones feel better, sleep better, and feed more efficiently faster. Starting early can save parents and their little ones a lot of trouble.
It Is Not About Surviving
Parenting should not be about surviving. As parents, my partner and I have gone through our share of struggles. We do not believe in just getting by because we want our little ones and our family to have the best opportunity to succeed. We are all doing our best and our little one should have the same opportunity. Sometimes wait and see works but regardless of the time it takes it often is a wait and suffer. I hope we all agree that nobody deserves that. Least of all new parents and their babies.
Support Your Baby With Massage
Baby massage can be a great way to support a baby and their developing nervous system. For parents looking to connect through touch our free online baby massage class can help get you started. Through touch, you can support a baby to relax or become more aware. It all depends on the technique you use. The class will teach you all about this form of touch when to (and not to) use it, and how to connect with your baby. Get started with online infant massage today!
Hunger & Cold
When an infant is hungry, their body may produce certain reflexes in preparation for feeding. One of these reflexes is the rooting reflex, where the infant turns their head and opens their mouth in the direction of a stimulus (usually a nipple or a bottle). The muscles in their jaw and face may also contract in anticipation of suckling. This can cause the jaw to quiver or tremble.
On the other hand, if an infant is cold, their muscles may contract and shiver in an attempt to generate heat and maintain their body temperature. This can cause their jaw to quiver or tremble, along with other signs such as chattering teeth or shivering limbs. Infants are especially vulnerable to temperature changes, as they have a larger body surface area in proportion to their body weight, which means they lose heat more quickly than adults.
It’s important for caregivers to be aware of the signs of hunger and cold in infants, as both of these can lead to discomfort and distress for the baby. Providing appropriate clothing, blankets, and warmth can help to prevent cold-related tremors while offering frequent feedings and responding to the infant’s hunger cues can help to alleviate hunger-related tremors.
While it is rare, a quivering or trembling jaw in an infant may sometimes be a sign of a more serious underlying neurological condition. Here are some examples:
- Seizure Disorder: Seizures occur when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain. In infants, seizures may present as sudden jerking movements, staring, or shaking of the limbs or face, including the jaw. Infants who have frequent or prolonged seizures may require medication or other forms of treatment to manage their condition.
- Neuromuscular Disorders: Certain neuromuscular disorders can affect the muscles of the jaw, leading to tremors or weakness. For example, myasthenia gravis is a condition that affects the neuromuscular junction and can cause muscle weakness, including in the face and jaw. Other neuromuscular disorders that may affect the jaw include muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, and motor neuron disease.
- Neurological Injury or Damage: Trauma, injury, or damage to the brain or nervous system can cause a variety of symptoms, including tremors or shaking. For example, an infant who has experienced a head injury or who has a brain abnormality may develop tremors or other signs of neurological dysfunction.
If you are concerned that your infant’s quivering or trembling jaw may be a sign of a more serious condition, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional. They can perform a thorough examination and may recommend additional tests or referrals to a specialist if necessary.
Medications are complex in how they interact with different individuals. Talking with your child’s pediatrician about what medications you are taking if you are providing breast milk is important. This includes antidepressants and PRN medications. Additionally, some stimulant-type medications can contribute to tremors or jaw quivering. If you, or your baby, is on medication talking with your pediatrician to understand the side effects is key. For a more complete list of drug types that can induce tremors visit medline.
Infants may experience tremors or quivering of the jaw for a variety of reasons, including hunger, cold, neurological conditions, and medications. Hunger and cold can cause shivering or tremors in infants, while neurological conditions such as seizures or cerebral palsy may also cause involuntary movements. Certain medications may also cause tremors or shaking in infants. However, it’s important to note that not all infants who are exposed to medication will experience tremors or jaw quivering. If you are concerned about your infant’s tremors or jaw quivering, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment plan.