Why Is My Baby Shoulder Popping When Picked Up?

So, you reach out to pick your baby and all of a sudden, you hear that popping sound like that of a crack from the shoulder region.

That apprehensive feeling of hearing the sound of a crack in your baby’s shoulder could be disturbing.

That is why this article has been compiled.

To help you understand why your baby’s shoulder pops or cracks when picked up, as well as the necessary steps to take when it seems overbearing. 

It is natural for every parent or caregiver to be curious and concerned with the growth process of their baby and everything that happens around them.

Since it is believed that a child is born with a part of the mother’s heart, it is quite understandable when a mother panics and gets unsettled about certain aspects of growth she is not familiar with.

As an infant, air leaks out of the lungs, and when the pressure is applied to the affected part that causes the leaked air to be trapped in between the joints, the resultant effect will be a popping sound.

Besides, due to how soft and tender newborns are, their joints tend to be very loose.

The good news is, that the popping sound is mostly without harm.

However, it is necessary to seek medical help if the popping sound is accompanied by discomforting signals from your baby.

Is It Normal For My Baby’s Shoulder To Pop?

Well, it might be surprising to know that it is very common for a toddler’s shoulder to make popping sounds in the joint areas, and these sounds are mostly similar to the crack of the knuckles.

It is also pertinent to note that the shoulder is a complicated part of the skeleton in which the head of the long bone could easily get stuck.

Research over time has shown that the noise may be a result of gas release from the joints.

Scientists further go on to say that these sounds are probably heard when soft tissues (tendons) connect with hard tissues (bones) and friction is formed.

Medically, it is called Crepitus.

Crepitus is a term used to describe sounds emitted by the contraction of tissues.

What Causes The Crack Sound In My Baby’s Shoulder?

Break sounds are prevalent in the joints and though the crack sound can be unsettling, it is mild and gives assurance for the growth process unless it comes with pain or swelling of the affected part.

Due to how tender, flexible, and developing newborns are, their joints are very soft and easily moveable.

This easy movement, however, is what puts unnecessary pressure on the soft tissues that cause air leakage leading to a crack sound in the shoulder when picked.

Regardless, it is a healthy development.

Is The Popping Sound Possible Evidence Of Growth?

Definitely. The growth rate of newborns, though sometimes rapid, takes certain processes.

As the infant body grows, it doesn’t grow in unison and the resultant effect could be the tendons being too short and having slight difficulty quickly catching up with the bones.

It is natural to hear the pop sound in the shoulder, elbows, wrist, and knees as the baby grows because it shows a sign of the infant trying to relax and balance the body.

Nonetheless, it is necessary to seek medical attention if the pop sound causes pain or is heard in the hip joint.

The Common Reason For Panic

Scientists have discovered that the popping sound in a baby’s shoulder could be a signal that something is wrong since it’s a sign of arthritis in grown-ups.

This further explains why mothers feel worried when such a sound is heard from the joints of their baby when picked up.

To reiterate, you don’t have much to worry about in this regard, especially when the baby seems okay and is not making any discomforting signals.

When Is The Sound Abnormal Enough To Cause Concern?

Naturally, the popping sounds are normal and as long as the baby shows no sign of pain, it is safe to inhale and exhale, and then relax.

However, there are times you should be worried, and here are some reasons;

A Crack In The Hips

A pop sound in the hips could mean that the baby has a dislocation and at this time, it is advisable to contact an Orthopaedic Surgeon or Paediatrician. If serious, an X-ray could be offered.

Dislocation In The Shoulders And Elbows

As a result of constantly grabbing the child in the arm, dislocated shoulders and elbows are likely to occur.

The signs mostly include; swelling, pain, and redness. It is not safe, anyway, to only watch out for these signs because other possible symptoms could be hidden as some baby barely makes it obvious when they are in pain.

Tips To Help Reduce Your Baby Shoulder From Popping When Picked Up

In most cases, it is noticeable that popping sounds are temporary and harmless. Still, it is important to follow some necessary precautions to help reduce possible painful friction in the future. Some of the steps include;

Frequent Body Massages

Gently massaging your baby’s body with a quality skincare baby oil will help relax the joints and keep them balanced.

Exclusive breastfeeding should also be regularized.

Sunlight Benefits

It is necessary to expose your baby to the early morning sunlight for about half an hour.

The sunlight will combine to help your baby’s body produce Vitamin D which is essential in helping to absorb calcium in the body.

It also helps strengthen the bones and prevents the development of rickets.

Careful Handling Of The Baby

Popping sounds are mostly healthy as it aids the physical development of the baby but even at that, it is necessary to handle the baby with care at all times.

As a mother, it is natural to feel like your baby owns a part of your heart and the role could be demanding at times, so it is quite understandable to worry about every sound and crack heard in your baby’s joint.

Although it is mostly normal and harmless as pointed out in this article, it is necessary to apply care when dealing with such sounds to avoid problems for your baby and you in the future.


Whether your baby’s shoulder is popping or not, there is always a need to be observant about their body. Dealing with babies calls for a lot of uncertainty.

And this is because things change quickly with babies – one minute they seem okay, the next minute they’re creating a cause for panic.

That said, you don’t have to be overly comfortable with your baby’s shoulder popping up.

Sometimes, look closely to see if you’ll observe something abnormal. If that happens, contact a doctor immediately. Good luck.

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