Infant Hyperactivity

Some babies are higher maintenance than others.While some are content to simply lie in their cribs or swings and watch the world go by, others are demanding and needy from day one.They need to be moved constantly and may seem bored with their surroundings at an early age These babies may be termed "hyperactive."

An extremely happy baby standing up in his crib. Credit: Oleksii Zabusik/iStock/Getty Images

Symptoms of Infant Hyperactivity

According to pediatrician Dr. Sears, author of more than 30 books on pediatric medicine and an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, hyperactivity in an infant or toddler is not a disorder, but a description. Tthese are the babies who often appear restless and seem to have a motor that does not shut off, and who can not sit still for a meal or even a quick photograph. According to, hyperactive babies move constantly, cry frequently, have difficulty sleeping and need to be rocked all the time. Many have colic. Some babies outgrow these symptoms, while others continue these behaviors into their toddler and early childhood years.


A child who appears hyperactive in some situations may not appear so in others. A high-energy baby who is placed in a room with docile, reserved children his age may appear hyperactive in comparison. Also, your baby may play calmly in the comfort of his own home but become overstimulated and restless with a group of strangers.


There is no single cause of hyperactivity in infants. However, the most common cause of hyperactivity in babies and children is genetics. A baby with a parent who has been diagnosed as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has a 25 percent chance of inheriting this condition. Exposure to toxic substances and brain injury can also cause hyperactivity.


According to Dr. Sears, the term "hyperactive" is not a negative label. Distinguishing between a normally active baby and a hyperactive one is merely a judgment call. Even if you believe that your busy baby is hyperactive, that does not mean he will be this way or carry this label forever, or that he will someday be called hyperactive by a doctor or school psychologist. This term just describes how your child acts, at any given movement, without saying it is good or bad.


Though infant hyperactivity is not always a predictor of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it is possible that a baby's behaviors will continue into childhood. According to Consumer Reports, children with ADHD are usually diagnosed in early elementary school, since the problems become more obvious when they have to sit still and focus.

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