The Science Behind Why Babies Kick

When pregnant, feeling your baby kick can be a very exciting experience and offers some of the first bonding moments with your little one; before those later bonding moments of first words, starting solids, or taking those wobbly first steps. 

The Science Behind Why Babies Kick

According to a new study by University College London, when a pregnant woman feels her baby kick, the child may be 'mapping' out its body and exploring its surroundings, research suggests.

The study analyzed the brainwaves of 19 two-day-old infants, some of whom were premature and were therefore assumed to be acting as if they were still in the womb. When the newborns kicked, it activated a region of their brains that is associated with sensory input and is thought to be critical in helping them to 'get to know' their bodies. 

The Science Behind Why Babies Kick

The study measured brainwaves of babies who kick their limbs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and discovered those fast brainwaves fire in the corresponding region of the rain, ScienceDaily reported. In other words, if a baby moved their right hand during REM sleep, the fast brainwaves would fire in the brain's left hemisphere, which controls touch for the right hand, according to the study's findings. 

So what does this research mean for fetal development? Kimberley Whitehead, who worked on the study, said that their findings could help medical professionals improve sleep recommendations and practices for newborns.

While every woman feels baby’s kicks at different times, movement often begins between weeks 16 and 25. You're more likely to feel baby move when you're in a quiet position, either sitting or lying down.

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