Why Do Babies Clench Their Fists?

Why Do Babies Clench Their Fists

Newborns have plenty of uncomfortable and uncommon qualities that may shock you. Not just do newborns often have wrinkled and purple fingers and toes, however they may also do strange things with their hands, such as keeping them clenched securely. Clenched fists in newborns are regular, however if you are anxious, talk to your pediatrician.

Babies have a typical and strange practice of clenching their hands, either around an object (say, a finger) or just by forming a tight ball with their own fists. As it ends up, this is not coincidental, but does have some clinical basis to it. It’s in fact a physical reflex referred to as the Palmar Grasp Reflex (or just the grasp reflex), which is typically observed in infants. You can elicit the grasp reflex by rubbing your finger, or any other item, in a baby’s palms.

Why Do Babies Clench Their Fists?

Newborn Position

Through the first few weeks of life, newborn babies typically will keep the position they were in while restricted inside the uterus. They will keep their limbs near their bodies and keep their hands clenched. It will take weeks after she is born for your infant to start opening and closing her hands.

Why Do Babies Clench Their Fists

Understanding Reflex

If you can pry your newborn’s fingers to open his hand, you will see that he has an incredibly strong grasping reflex. This is the same reflex that keeps him from opening his hands, the KidsHealth site explains, because the feeling of his fingers touching his palm causes him to close his hands tight and leave them that way. It will be a while before your baby recognizes that his hands belong of his body which he can control their movement. By about 6 weeks of age, your baby will attempt to open one hand with the other before he even understands the hand is his own.

Open-Handed Milestone

Within the first three months of life, your baby will slowly begin opening and closing her hands and you will begin to see the tight, clenched fist turn into a mainly open and relaxed hand. Your baby will even start batting at things and reaching for toys that hang above her. As your baby establishes and discovers her environment, her hands and the rest of her body will end up being more unwinded and less tight and closed.


A clenched fist that is accompanied by all-around body tightness might signify something serious, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University warns. Spastic paralysis, a term that explains numerous neurological conditions, is a condition where your baby’s brain has difficulty getting in touch with and directing the muscles to perform numerous motions. Involuntary, spastic or rigid motions, muscle weakness and bad motor control are signs of the condition. If you are fretted that your baby might have a hidden condition that is causing his clenched fists, consult your pediatrician.

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