Home Baby What does it mean, when a baby’s fist is closed?

What does it mean, when a baby’s fist is closed?

by Ines Wurbs

One phenomenon that many new parents see is that their babies make fists. The palms of hands and feet of our babies are still the most sensitive parts of the body at the beginning of their lives. So, they feel rapidly and intensely when something touches there.

However, when babies make fists, it is normal and not a sign of discomfort, pain, or fear. It is a natural reflex that makes your baby do it. If you are concerned, I can reassure you right here: This is completely natural and normal.

Here are baby reflexes and the exact reasons behind them:

Reasons why a baby clenches its fist

This quick and firm closing of the hands into a fist is due to two reflexes:

The grasp reflex

I would almost say this is the number one reason babies get fists. When you touch your baby’s palm or something else presses against your baby’s palms, they reflexively close their hands. Our babies often trigger it themselves because they touch the palms of their hands with their little fingers. This grip can be so tight that some babies could even hold their own body weight.

The Startle reflex

The Startle reflex is triggered when the baby feels signs that he/ she might fall. This can be triggered when your baby is lying on their back and either pushes themselves through a random movement or stretches out. The lower back is in the air and the head is tilted back slightly. Or if the surface, your baby is lying on, makes a loud noise or a loud noise can be heard.

How and when do babies learn to grab and reach out?

Both reflexes disappear completely, the latest your baby is the age of six months. During the first 3-4 months, your baby’s movements are often reflexive or spontaneous. This means that they are not yet trying to make a specific movement on purpose.

Nevertheless, the muscles are, of course, moved and trained as well. Over time, our babies realize that their movements make a difference. Initially, accidentally. So, they bump into the mobile with their little legs, and it moves. Our babies are mostly fascinated by the swinging movements of the mobile. If this happens a few more times, our babies will realize that they are the cause of the movement.

Now they’re starting to do it on purpose. During this time, of course, the intentional grasping begins. They find out: if I close my hand, the spoon stays in my hand, if I open it falls down. This is also a lot of fun for most babies. So be careful 😉


Babies making fists is perfectly normal and is part of their natural development. Of course, a tight and long clenching of the hand into a fist can also have other causes. Especially if you feel that these could be cramps, you should have this clarified by your pediatrician to be on the safe side.

All reflexes and your baby’s entire musculoskeletal system will be examined by the doctor shortly after birth and during the first check-ups. If there had been any abnormalities here, you would have been informed. Nevertheless, it is better to ask once too often before you worry all night long.

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