Baby Kicking – 9 Facts You Need To Know

Baby Kicking – 9 Facts You Need To Know

Forward note from BB: no, the image of the baby kicking is not real!

Whether it’s your first baby or fourth, every pregnant mama looks forward to feeling flutters and kicks from her baby.

Known as ‘quickening’ it’s a reassuring sign that your baby is growing and thriving.

Not all the movements you can feel are actually kicks from your baby.

Babies spend plenty of time moving their hands and exploring the uterus, hiccupping, changing sides and even doing somersaults.

Babies are busy!

Baby Kicking Facts

Pregnancy is full of wonder and if you’ve ever wondered what all those baby movements actually mean, here are 9 facts about baby kicking that you should know:

#1: When Will I Feel My Baby Kick?

First time mothers-to-be usually recognise their baby’s movements as late as the 24th week of pregnancy. Your baby has been moving long before that, but the sensation is unfamiliar, and you might not recognise it for what it is. A baby’s movements aren’t very strong in the earlier stages of pregnancy – some mothers think they just have wind!

If the placenta is at the front(anterior) of your uterus, it may buffer the feeling of your baby’s kicks for some time. Women having their second or subsequent baby usually recognise the ‘flutters’ of their baby’s movement much earlier – even as early as 12 weeks.

#2: Why Do Babies Kick?

Babies tend to move mostly in response to what’s happening in their environment. Too much noise, light or even certain strong foods can stimulate your baby into kicking and moving.

Babies also need to stretch and move for relaxation. If you’re moving about, it can be soothing for your baby, they will often relax and even go to sleep.

Mothers-to-be who participate in relaxation exercises, such as mediation or yoga, may find their babies are quieter. This study found that pregnant women undertaking a guided imagery relaxation exercise experienced a reduction in fetal movements. The exercise resulted in physiological signs of relaxation in the mother, such as lowered heart rate, respiration rate, and skin conductance. This in turn lowered fetal heart rates and decreased movements of babies.

#3:  How Many Baby Kicks is Normal?

The average number of kicks falls between 15-20 per day, remembering this includes all movement, not just kicking your bladder! Every baby is different, and this includes their movements. Some babies literally sleep all day and move at night when you are asleep, whereas others seem to be moving all the time.

Babies rest and sleep in the womb as much as 17 hours a day, usually for periods of around 40-50 minutes at a time. If you’ve been busy and on the move, you might not notice your baby’s wakeful movements.

Most pregnant women will notice a peak in activity after meal times, after being active and during the evening.

#4: When Should I Count Kicks?

There isn’t a ‘normal’ pattern for movements, but you have probably worked out what is normal for your baby. As your baby grows and develops, the pattern of baby kicking might also change.

It’s normal to worry if you think you haven’t felt your baby move for a while. Here are signs that mean you should monitor your baby’s movements:

  • Experiencing less than 10 movements in a two hour period
  • Reduced or no movement in response to external stimuli like loud noise, patting or prodding your belly, or the sound of your or your partner’s voice
  • A gradual decrease in your baby’s movements for more than two consecutive days.

#5: How To Count Baby Kicks

If you think your baby’s movements have reduced, make a note of any movements in the following hour. Sit down, have a snack or a cold drink, and put your feet up. The sugar in food or the coldness of the drink will usually wake your baby and you should feel at least ten movements in the next two hours. These movements include rolls, thumps, hiccups, kicks and pokes.

If you notice reduced movements in a two hour period, you should contact your care provider as soon as possible.

#6: Does Reduced Baby Kicking Mean Something Is Wrong?

While it doesn’t always means something is wrong, reduced movement can be an indicator of fetal distress from lack of nutrition or oxygen. A maternal and fetal assessment will be done to look at the cause of reduced fetal movements. This involves an ultrasound to check blood flow of the placenta and baby’s wellbeing, as well as how they respond to stimuli.

Sometimes a problem is detected and your care provider will discuss with you how to proceed if your baby needs to be born early, to prevent further complications.

#7: Should I Count Kicks Every Day?

Keeping tabs on your baby’s movement is important, but unless you’re experiencing a high risk pregnancy, there’s no need to be consumed about kick counts. Most mamas will realise they have been very busy and haven’t noticed any movements. This usually prompts them to focus on their baby who immediately starts kicking up a storm!

If your care provider advises you to monitor kicks, it can be useful to do this at the same time each day, after a meal or when your baby is usually very active.

#8: Will My Baby Move Less After 36 Weeks?

Your baby should always be moving throughout the day. After 36 weeks of pregnancy, babies have much less room for big movements like kicks and rolls.

This doesn’t mean you should feel a reduction in movement – they will still use their hands to explore their face and body, play with the umbilical cord, and try to stretch in their cramped surroundings. Regular and rhythmic movements will indicate your baby has hiccups – some babies have hiccups at the same time every day.

#9: Does Fetal Movement Predict Future Behaviour?

Your baby’s pattern of movement in the uterus is often cause for speculation of their behaviour once born. Everyone from your mother in law to the bank teller will tell you that babies who are active in pregnancy will have you run off your feet when they are toddlers. Babies who sleep all day and ‘party’ all night will have their nights and days backwards, according to conventional wisdom. But how true is it?

A doctor from John Hopkins University has been studying links between fetal activity and future behaviour.  In one study, Doctor Jane DiPietro looked at fetal activity in over 50 babies, then followed up with behaviour assessments at one and two years of age. The results seem to point to a link between movement in the uterus and regulatory behaviour in early childhood. Regulatory behaviour involves impulse control, inhibition and self regulation.

Feeling your baby move and kick is a special feeling, and one that most mamas look forward to and even miss after their baby is born! New milestones are being reached as your baby’s brain is wired for learning about the world outside the womb.

Movement is one of the first communications your baby has with you. Any reduction in any movement should be noted and checked out by your care provider as soon as possible, to help you have a worry and stress free pregnancy.

Read when BellyBelly members first felt their baby kicking here.

Last Updated: September 18, 2015


Sam McCulloch enjoys talking so much about birth that she decided to become a birth educator and doula, supporting parents in making informed choices about their birth experience. In her spare time she watches Downton Abbey and has numerous creative projects on the go. She is mother to three beautiful little humans.


  1. This is a very interesting and helpful list, I just want to point out there is a confusing discrepancy where it says total kicks (movements) 15-20. But later it says to start counting if you feel less than 10 in a 2 hour period, it just must be more than 20 per day (?)

    1. It just means if you feel less than normal, then start to take notice so you have a record for your midwife/doctor. You don’t need to count kicks every single day, it would drive you crazy! But when you notice it’s quietened down, take the time to track kicks. All the best x

  2. Wow, awesome article!! I think I felt the quickening, it felt like the very top of my tummy being tickled so hard it really made me giggle.
    I thought about when the baby is born how it will make me smile to look at their happy face. xxxx

    1. ” Too much noise, light or even certain strong foods can stimulate your baby into kicking and moving. ”

      I’m pretty sure they are just talking about you having a bright light near your belly or when you don’t have a top covering your belly in the bright sun. It’s not that it’s too much light for you, just more then bub is used to seeing, therefore stimulates kicks and movement. (Hope that was helpful)

  3. Interesting article – my little womb squatter is very active, all the time. He wakes up around 6am strangely enough the time our alarm clock goes off, and he dancers around all day until about 5pm then active from around 9pm… Looks like my little darling is definitely gonna have me rushed off my feet.

  4. I’m 29 weeks pregnant and this is my first child…strangely enough I’ve been feeling her move for as long as I can remember even when I was so sick she would move and she hasn’t stopped lol
    She moves every chance she gets I first thought that was really odd like maybe something’s wrong
    But everyone says that’s normal sometimes she will be moving the whole day
    I talk and sing nursery rhymes to her
    That’s ok right or is that like a no no

    And one more thing.. Can sleeping only on my left side harm my baby I mean it’s uncomfortable at times aching hips that I’d sleep on my back for a few minutes then go back to sleeping on my left side
    And also feel this strange discomfort on the left side of my tummy
    Is that all normal im still new to this and want to learn but I don’t want to harm my unborn baby in the process

    Thank you in advance

    1. From everything I’ve read and been told (by doctors)
      1. Talking and singing to your baby is a great idea. He or she will learn to recognise your voice. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and my baby is always most active when I sing to her or when she hears my husband talking.
      2. While sleeping on your left is preferable, sleeping on your right side is also alright. Its just sleeping on your back that can be harmful if you do it for long periods of time. While I try to sleep on my left as much as possible, the moment my hips/tummy start aching, I switch sides.

  5. This article reassured me no end as I have been driving myself (& my husband) crazy with any decrease in movement/ change in movement. Thank you for your article

  6. I’m 25 weeks pregnant and I have to say I’m still unsure about “the quickening” – I often experience “tickling”, mild short spasms (what feels like when your eye is ticking from stress) or something that feels like a kick from the inside. Sometimes it’s quite strong, so strong I jump up, which is really embarrassing in public (plus I have to press on my belly in the spot which reduces the unpleasant feeling and “soothes” the repetitive kicks and ticks so I think I make people around me uncomfortable sometimes :)). And it’s definitely more than 20 “kicks” a day. My doctor says all women experience the baby’s movement differently so it’s impossible to say if it’s pathological or not. I wonder if there are women who experience the same thing as me…

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