Playing on side and trouble reaching

Hi there! My little one (4mo) struggles when playing in side lying. Her top arm will fling back unless I hold behind her shoulder. She is hesitant to play with either arm/hand. Sometimes just sits there looking at the toy but not enticed to reach for it. Should I be concerned that she can’t keep her hands together and play on her side or is she just still developing the skills?

Side note:
She didn’t start reaching for toys above her until about 2.5 weeks ago. When laying on her back she will kick her legs like crazy but prefers to leave her arms flat on the ground most of the time.

Thanks for the help and advice!

Hi @linds-thanks for your question!

Sidelying can be a difficult position for babies to maintain, so needing some support from behind by either you or pillows is very appropriate as she builds the necessary strength.

Here is a post from @Starfishtherapies for some things to take note of during sidling play

Have you noticed her struggling to use either arm or both? Does she stretch overhead? If you notice her avoiding moving her arms, then definitely check with your pediatrician. If she IS moving her arms fairly regularly, I would try to stimulate her interest through sight and sound and see how that goes over the next few weeks.

And always trust your mom gut!

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Hi! Thanks so much for your response! This is my first baby so I’m still trying to sort out my mom gut vs my mom anxiety! I was watching her today and she can stretch overhead but rarely moves arms above her shoulders. She doesn’t necessarily struggle to use her arms but is sometimes still a little slow or shaky bringing her hands to an object.

When in side lying her arm shoots back like she can’t control it and then acts very uncomfortable, squeezing her stomach and squirming to get back to her back. I guess that’s why it was concerning, didn’t seem like a normal reaction to just not liking something. We’ll see how sight and sounds go over the weekend! Thanks again!

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Also, when you see the arm going back like that it can be because they feel like they are ‘falling’ because their balance/righting reactions are kicking in. Roll a little more towards the stomach and provide a little more support for a while to help through this stage. Let me know if you have more questions or if that doesn’t make sense.

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I instruct my parents to incorporate massage into their daily routines with their babies. This can help to “wake up” the arms while increasing awareness through touch and movement. It’s also just a nice way to bond and build connection with your baby. Make sure you’re having fun with your baby!