how long does the newborn scrunch last?

How long does the newborn scrunch last? If you’ve ever held a newborn baby, you’ve likely noticed their adorable curled-up position with tiny legs tucked towards their belly – the “newborn scrunch.”

The newborn scrunch typically lasts one to two months at most. During this time, your baby’s muscles and reflexes are adjusting to life outside the womb after being confined in a cozy, cramped space for nine months.

In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of the newborn scrunch, including its causes, duration, signs of its ending, tips for helping your baby transition smoothly, and when to seek professional help.

how long does the newborn scrunch last?

The “newborn scrunch” typically lasts for the first few months of a baby’s life, usually up to around 1-2 months old. It’s a reflex that newborns have where they keep their arms and legs flexed inward toward their bodies in a tightly curled position.

This scrunch is a remnant of their time spent in the womb, where they had to stay curled up due to the confined space.

As babies grow and develop over the first few months, they gradually start to extend and stretch out their arms and legs more often.

However, every baby is different, and some may stay in the scrunched position for a little longer or come out of it sooner.

Causes of the Newborn Scrunch

To understand why newborns scrunch up, we need to go back to their intrauterine environment. Inside the womb, your baby was curled up in a tight ball, with little room to stretch out. As a result, their muscles and joints became accustomed to this confined position.

After birth, your baby’s muscles and reflexes are still adapting to the newfound space and freedom of movement. Think of it like emerging from a cozy little cocoon into the wide-open world. It takes time for their bodies to adjust and straighten out.

Intrauterine Environment

In the womb, your baby was surrounded by amniotic fluid and had limited space to move around. This cozy environment conditioned their muscles and joints to remain in a flexed, curled-up position.

Muscle Development

Newborns have relatively underdeveloped muscles, especially in their backs and legs. Their muscles are still catching up to support their bodies in a more extended position.


Babies are born with several reflexes that aid in their survival, including the tonic neck reflex. This reflex causes their arms and legs to extend when their head is turned to one side and flex when turned to the other side. It’s a remnant of the cramped conditions in the womb and contributes to the scrunched-up posture.

Duration of the Newborn Scrunch

Now, for the million-dollar question: how long does the newborn scrunch last? The answer is typically one to two months at most.

However, it’s essential to remember that every baby is unique, and the duration can vary. Some babies may start unfurling earlier, while others may take a little longer to straighten out fully. It all depends on your little one’s individual development and growth rate.

Here’s a rough timeline of what you can expect:

AgeTypical Progression
0-4 weeksFully scrunched up, with knees tucked towards the chest
4-8 weeksGradual unfurling, with legs starting to straighten out
8-12 weeksScrunch mostly resolved, with occasional fleeting moments

Why does the duration vary so much?

The duration of the newborn scrunch can vary significantly from baby to baby due to a combination of factors:

  • Prenatal positioning: Babies who were in a more cramped position in the womb may take longer to unfurl.
  • Birth experience: Babies delivered via C-section may have a slightly longer scrunch phase, as they didn’t experience the squeezing sensation of the birth canal.
  • Individual muscle tone: Some babies are simply born with stronger or more developed muscles, allowing them to straighten out sooner.
  • Growth rate: Rapid growth and development can help resolve the scrunch more quickly.

Remember, there’s no need to rush your little one’s progress. The scrunch will resolve naturally when your baby is ready – trying to force them out of it could potentially cause discomfort or injury.

Signs the Scrunch is Ending

As your baby approaches the end of the newborn scrunch phase, you’ll likely notice some telltale signs:

Physical Cues

  • Straightening legs: One of the first signs is your baby’s legs gradually extending and straightening out.
  • Relaxed posture: You’ll notice your little one’s body becoming more relaxed and less tightly curled up.
  • Increased movement: With newfound mobility, your baby may start kicking and wriggling more freely.

Behavioral Changes

  • Improved sleep: As your baby’s body adjusts to the new, more extended position, they may sleep more soundly and for longer stretches.
  • More alert and engaged: With greater comfort and mobility, your baby may seem more alert and interested in their surroundings.

Is it normal for the scrunch to come and go?

Yes, it’s perfectly normal for the newborn scrunch to come and go during this transitional phase. Even after your baby has mostly unfurled, you may notice them reverting to the scrunched-up position occasionally, especially when they’re sleepy or feeling insecure. This is simply a throwback to the comforting, familiar position they enjoyed in the womb.

As long as your baby can move freely and doesn’t seem distressed, there’s no need for concern. The scrunch will gradually fade away as they become more accustomed to their newfound freedom of movement.

Helping the Transition

While the newborn scrunch is a natural and temporary phase, there are a few things you can do to help make the transition a little smoother for your baby:

Gentle Stretching Exercises

Carefully stretching your baby’s legs can help encourage their muscles to lengthen and relax. Always do this gently and slowly, never forcing their limbs into an uncomfortable position.

Tummy Time

Giving your baby plenty of supervised tummy time can help strengthen their neck, back, and core muscles, promoting better head control and body alignment.

Start with just a few minutes at a time and gradually increase the duration as your baby gets stronger.

Swaddling Techniques

While swaddling can be comforting for newborns, it’s essential to swaddle correctly to avoid exacerbating the scrunch.

Consider leaving your baby’s legs free to move and straighten out, while swaddling their torso and arms.

Can baby carriers help with the scrunch?

Absolutely! Wearing your baby in a carrier or wrap can be a great way to gently encourage their legs to straighten out while providing the warmth and security they crave.

The weight of their legs hanging down can help stretch and lengthen their muscles, while the snug embrace of the carrier mimics the cozy feeling of the womb.

Just be sure to follow proper positioning guidelines for your specific carrier, and always prioritize your baby’s comfort and safety.

When to Seek Help

In most cases, the newborn scrunch is a harmless and fleeting phase that resolves itself without any intervention. However, there are a few instances when you may want to consult your pediatrician:

Persistent Discomfort or Tightness

If your baby seems to be in discomfort or experiencing persistent tightness in their muscles, it’s a good idea to have your pediatrician take a look.

They can rule out any underlying issues and provide guidance on gentle stretches or exercises to help.

Developmental Concerns

If your baby hasn’t started to unfurl by around 3-4 months old, or if you notice any other concerning developmental delays, don’t hesitate to bring it up with your pediatrician. Early intervention can make a big difference in addressing any potential issues.

How long does newborn scrunch last?

Could the scrunch be a sign of something more serious?

While extremely rare, an abnormally prolonged or severe scrunch could potentially be a sign of an underlying neurological or muscular condition.

This is why it’s essential to monitor your baby’s progress and bring any concerns to your pediatrician’s attention.

However, it’s important not to worry unnecessarily. In the vast majority of cases, the newborn scrunch is simply a normal, temporary phase that will resolve on its own with time and gentle encouragement.


The newborn scrunch is a fleeting yet endearing phase that your little one goes through as they adjust to life outside the womb.

While it may look a bit comical to see your baby all curled up like a little shrimp, this posture is perfectly natural and serves an important purpose.

As we’ve explored, the scrunch is a remnant of your baby’s intrauterine environment, where they are cozy and confined within the cozy confines of your belly.

After birth, it takes time for their muscles, reflexes, and bodies to adapt to the newfound freedom of movement.

While the duration can vary from baby to baby, the scrunch typically lasts no more than one to two months. During this time, you may notice gradual signs of your little one unfurling, such as straightening legs, increased mobility, and improved sleep.

As a parent, there’s no need to worry or intervene unless you notice persistent discomfort or developmental concerns.

Instead, embrace this adorable phase and enjoy all the snuggly cuddles with your scrunched-up newborn. Before you know it, they’ll be stretching out and ready to explore the world around them.

So, cherish these fleeting moments, and remember that the newborn scrunch is just a temporary stage on your baby’s incredible journey of growth and development.

With time, patience, and gentle encouragement, your little one will soon be unfurled and ready to take on the world, one tiny step at a time.

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