What Can Cause a Baby to Go Limp?

Any change in a baby’s behavior can make parents worry. This is especially true if you’re a first-time mom or dad and you aren’t sure what is and is not normal. If your baby seems unusually limp and weak, it may be perfectly normal. However, it may also be a sign that your baby has an underlying condition that needs to be investigated by your pediatrician.

Keep scrolling to learn more about the conditions that can cause a baby to be limp and what you can do to help.

Reasons Your Baby May Be Limp

The following are just a few of the defects or illnesses that can cause limpness or slow movement. If your baby is limp, it’s important to have them evaluated by a pediatrician.

Undetected Birth Injuries

Sometimes babies are injured during birth or doctors fail to diagnose or treat conditions that can lead to brain damage. When this happens, the effects are not always immediately noticeable. Your baby’s limpness may be the first sign that something is wrong.

Some of the injuries that your baby may have suffered during birth include:

  • Birth asphyxia
  • Forceps injury
  • Vacuum extraction injury
  • Erb’s palsy

Some birth injuries are unavoidable. However, others are the result of a medical professional’s mistake and never should have happened. If this is the case with your baby, click here to find out how a birth injury lawyer can help.

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Before your baby is born, their digestive tract is filled with meconium, a dark, tar-like substance you will find in their first few diapers. Sometimes when a fetus experiences trauma before birth, they expel the meconium in their body and it ends up in the amniotic fluid, where the baby aspirates it.

Meconium aspiration syndrome can be dangerous because it can cause brain damage that can lead to permanent disability. Many cases of this syndrome could have been prevented by careful monitoring during labor.

Related post: Why Your Baby Rubbing Face?


When a condition or injury causes limpness, it is known as hypotonia. There are several conditions that can lead to hypotonia. These include:

  • Down syndrome
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Maternal myasthenia gravis during pregnancy
  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Trisomy 13

Many children with hypotonia will benefit from therapy. The earlier you have your baby evaluated, the earlier pediatricians can recommend treatments and refer you to therapists who can do early interventions.

Related post: Why Do Babies Arch Their Backs? 

Group B Streptococcus

If a woman is not tested for Group B strep during her pregnancy, it is possible for her to pass it to her baby during birth, which can lead to brain damage. This is the most common cause of serious infections that can gravely harm a baby. If you believe you may have had Group B streptococcus during your pregnancy and your baby is showing signs of limpness or weakness, go to your pediatrician with your concerns.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is another condition that may be the result of a birth injury that deprived the fetus of oxygen. It may also be caused by a brain malformation or an illness or infection. This disorder affects muscle tone and weakness. Babies with CP may have weak muscles, but they may also have stiff, rigid muscles. This is another condition that can improve with early intervention, so the sooner you have your baby evaluated for CP, the better.

What You Can Do to Help

Many mothers are using infant massage to help with their baby’s development. Massaging your baby can help with breathing patterns, elongate their muscles, and even help them go to the bathroom. One of the biggest benefits of infant massage is it gives you a chance to soothe your baby. Massaging your baby can be fun, and it’s intellectually stimulating to baby, too, because it gives you a chance to interact closely.

You don’t have to go to a massage therapist to learn how to do infant massage. Plenty of moms have created YouTube videos of techniques they learned from therapists that they are happy to share.

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