Baby Arching Its Back & Crying?

Baby Arching Back & Crying: Should I be Worried?

My baby is crying with an arched back – should I be worried?

Here’s the short answer. In many if not most cases, a crying baby is normal.

Even with an arched back?

Yes. Your baby could be uncomfortable, but that’s not necessarily a big problem. Many babies do this when they have tummy issues or infant acid reflux for example.

Babies cry. Babies arch their backs. Intense crying paired with other symptoms might mean something serious. But it depends on a number of things. In certain cases, when babies arch their back and cry, they’re communicating something more serious. And we’ll cover that and more below.

In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • Reasons your baby might arch their back & cry.
  • Medical conditions that causes a baby to arch their back & cry.
  • The possibility of medical malpractice in those more serious cases.
  • What to do about it.

Let’s get right to it.

Have you ever walked down a labor and delivery ward? Chances are you heard lots of crying. Newborn crying that is. Whether it’s because they just came earth-side, their diapers are dirty, or the heel-prick glucose blood test caused them pain, newborn babies cry. It’s normal and usually a sign of a healthy baby. But what about a baby’s back arching, accompanied by crying? Is it an automatic cause for concern? 

Sometimes crying accompanied by an arched back can be normal. But babies arching their back and crying can also be early signs of severe distress, discomfort, or physical pain. This may be different than crying as a way of communicating hunger, tiredness, gas discomfort, etc. It can be a sign of a more serious issue or condition such as cerebral palsy.

If you are concerned about your baby’s arched back while crying, it’s wise to seek professional medical advice and get medical attention as needed, quickly.

If you believe it’s due to a birth injury that occurred because of a doctor’s negligence, contact a lawyer. Our team of experts can help you determine if we think you have a case. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Hampton & King for a free consult. 

Newborn cries while in hospital.

Normal Reasons A Baby Arches Their Back & Cries

My baby arches her back and cries a lot. What do I do? When your baby cries, it can be heartbreaking. It’s common to take any crying as a sign of distress, because it often is. But the truth is, babies have no other form of communication, and sometimes, they’re telling you about small issues.

In the early days, most cries mean one of the following:

  • Hunger. This is the most common cause of crying in newborns. 
  • Tiredness. Most babies don’t have the ability to stay awake for long; they probably need a nap. In between their other naps, of course.
  • Wet or soiled diaper. If your baby appears upset and is crying, check their diaper. No one enjoys sitting in wet or soiled clothing, including newborns. 
  • Gas. Especially in the early days, burping your baby is important to help release trapped gas. Otherwise, a baby might encounter some discomfort. 
  • Overfeeding. Yes, even too much milk can cause discomfort in a baby. 

Babies express their needs by crying – it’s the only language they can speak. And this normal. Even crying and arching their back is usually normal.

Here are some situations that might cause a baby to do this: 


This is a common medical condition, affecting 5% to 40% of babies throughout the world. While all babies cry, colicky babies cry over 3 hours per day. 

Acid Reflux

This is also called gastroesophageal reflux (Gerd). Gastroesophageal reflux happens when food/milk in the stomach refluxes back up (with stomach acid) and causes spit-ups. This condition is usually temporary but can cause great discomfort to a baby. It doesn’t usually result in poor growth, but if the baby is spitting up a lot and is not gaining weight, it may be a severe case.


Even something as minor as tummy issues (like an upset stomach or gas) can cause enough discomfort for an infant to arch their back and cry. And stomach issues can be caused by immature digestive systems amongst other things.

Normal Development

Babies may even arch their backs in the normal process of developing back and neck strength, as well as their motor skills. The fact is, there are many non-serious reasons. But there are some serious cases as well, so it’s good to look into it if necessary.

More Serious Causes Of A Baby Arching Their Back & Crying 

More likely than not, your baby arching back and crying isn’t life-threatening or life-altering behavior. But in some situations, it’s a good idea to get things checked out. Even if just for your own peace of mind.


Many young babies experience some form of jaundice after birth. This happens because of excess bilirubin in the bloodstream. Jaundice is typically accompanied by yellowing eyes and skin, and it can cause a baby to cry with an arched back. It usually goes away on its own after a few days. However, if high levels persist, it can lead to Kernicterus, which can cause uncontrolled movement, seizures, blindness, hearing loss, and other conditions. It can also lead to cerebral palsy.

Nerve Damage

During birth, a baby may experience nerve damage, especially after a long and difficult labor. If your baby archs its back and cries a lot, it could potentially be a symptom of nerve damage. Nerve damage can lead to serious conditions such as Erb’s Palsy, low muscle tone, sleep apnea, brain damage and developmental delays.

Cerebral Palsy

There are many different kinds of cerebral palsy. Most are associated with involuntary muscle movement rigidity. A baby arching its back and crying may be a sign of cerebral palsy. If you had a difficult birth and/or a C-section, and your baby ended up with hypertonia, cerebral palsy, kernicterus (jaundice), or Erb’s palsy, talk with an attorney. Schedule a free medical malpractice consultation right away, because you could have a case.

Severe Allergic Reactions

In rare cases, food allergies or intolerances can cause painful gastrointestinal distress or even anaphylaxis (a severe and sometimes life-threatening allergic reaction). In a case like this, a baby may arch it’s back and cry.


Meningitis is a serious infection of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain. Symptoms can include back arching. This condition requires immediate medical attention.


The autism spectrum is quite wide and providing a diagnosis can take some time. Signs may even take years to present themselves. Even then, a baby’s arching their back may be an early symptom of autism.

Possible Medical Malpractice?

If you’ve ruled out common causes of your baby arching back their back and crying, your parent senses may be going off. You might even be thinking back on the day your baby was born. Maybe your doctor acted negligently during labor and delivery, or even during pregnancy. Combine that with a baby who arches their back while crying, and you may have a case of medical malpractice. 

If you suspect negligence on your doctor’s part, contact Hampton & King immediately. Our team of experts can help you navigate your case, starting with a free consultation.