Q. Is it normal for a child to open and close hands with stiffening the arms?

Answered by
Dr. Faisal Abdul Karim Malim
and medically reviewed by Dr. Divya Banu M
This is a premium question & answer published on Aug 21, 2019

Hi doctor,

My son is 7 months old. A few weeks ago I have started to notice some odd movement, like opening and closing his hands and mainly on the right hand (just like stimming). And when he was lying on his back sometime he will stiffen his arms and legs and grunts. My partner's aunt's (his mum's sister) son has been diagnosed with autism and I do not know whether that will put my son at a higher risk.



Welcome to icliniq.com.

I would like to tell you that the age of seven months is a way too early to even comment about autism. So do not worry. The movements you are describing seem like normal movements of a growing baby to me.

Hi doctor,

Thank you for your reply. I would like to know if the stiffening on his arms and legs indicate anything like GERD or something because he does it every day and when he does it he will stiffen for a few seconds and relax then do it again and again until I go distract him. Also, he spits very little amount of sour smelling milk quite often too.



Welcome back to icliniq.com.

The video does show an ongoing episode of reflux (attachment removed to protect patient identity). I would advise you to keep the baby in a slightly elevated position (head up legs down at an angle of 20 to 25 degrees to the ground) after feeding. The size of the baby for a 7-month-old seems adequate to me. You can try this change of position that I have mentioned. You should be able to see changes in a week or two. If there are no changes, we can consider medications for the same.

Thank you doctor,

One more thing, does the constant hand scratching like motion typical of baby like him? At first, I saw him scratching actual objects but recently I noticed that he does it with his arm in the air too. It is just like the one in this video but sometimes more obvious then that just like the motion from the beginning of the previous video.



Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Nothing specific about the hand scratching. It is fine. Do not worry about it.

Hi doctor,

Thank you very much.



Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Take care.

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