When Can You Feel Baby Move? And What Does it Feel Like?

Team Peanut9 months ago4 min read

When do you feel the baby kick for the first time? How do you know it’s not just gas? Or hunger? Or nerves? Fetal movement can be tough to spot at first, but when you do, well… that’s when the fun starts!

Feeling baby bump

Your baby’s first movements won’t always be as dramatic as a big kick, punch, or jab. Instead, it’s likely to be far more subtle. So subtle, in fact, that you might not notice it right away. They can easily be dismissed as “probably just gas” or “maybe I’m hungry.”

Or… maybe it’s your baby finally making their first tiny attempts at soccer or kickboxing.

But how do you know? Here, we take a look at when you can feel your baby move, what it feels like, and how often you can expect it to happen.

When do you feel the baby move?

As we’re always keen to point out, every pregnancy is different. There’s no hard and fast rule for when you should feel your little karate kid’s first kick, but it will usually happen any time between week 16 and week 25. Those first movements (also known as quickening) are more likely to occur when you’re sitting or lying down in a calm, quiet position.

If this is your second pregnancy, you may even experience your baby’s first movements as early as week 13, since you’ll be more in tune with what it feels like.

So, what do first baby movements feel like?

Most mamas on Peanut describe the movement as similar to the butterflies you get when you’re nervous. Others say it’s a bit like a wave, a tumbling sensation, or like there’s a fish swimming around in your belly.

In the early days, it can be tough to distinguish between actual fetal movement and gas bubbles or hunger pangs. But over time, the feelings become stronger and more distinct, and you’ll soon notice every elbow, knee, kick, jab, and stretch. Occasionally, you may even feel little rhythmic twitches or pulses. Don’t be alarmed if you do – chances are, your baby has (fetal) hiccups!

How often should you feel baby movement? How early can you feel flutters?

Although you’ll probably feel a few small and occasional flutters from around week 16 (or week 13 if this is your second pregnancy), as your baby develops, you’ll notice that the movement becomes more frequent.

By the time you reach the third trimester, your baby has grown in size and strength. They can move around 30 times an hour, and some of those kicks can cause you to flinch. Ouch!

Interestingly, you’ll probably experience baby movement at certain times throughout the day — and (annoyingly for you) they’re often most active when you’re trying to sleep. Yep, they start keeping you up at night even before they’re born.

And towards the end of your pregnancy, there’s less room for them to maneuver, so the type of movement you feel will probably change. Most mamas describe it as a more forceful pressing or squirming sensation at this stage.

When can you share baby kicking?

One of the small joys of pregnancy is sharing the tiny kicks with your partner, family, and friends.

You’re with your baby 24/7, so it’s only natural that you feel a connection early on. But for everyone else, a little movement makes things real. (“Hey! There’s a baby in there!”)

Typically, if someone places their hand on your belly — and, it goes without saying, they should always ask first — then they may feel movement from around week 20. As your baby grows, you won’t just feel the kicks, but you can see them, too. It can look like a little ball rolling over the inside of your tummy. Weird!

From around week 25, your baby will start responding to familiar voices, so make sure you and your partner are chatting away to your bump. You might get a prod, kick, or an early fist bump in response.

To recap: When do you feel baby kick?

Everyone’s different, so if you don’t feel any movement around week 16, don’t fret. It could be until week 25 before you notice anything.

If you’re ever concerned about a lack of movement, remember, it doesn’t mean that something’s wrong. Maybe baby’s sleeping or hungry. Have a snack and see if that prompts anything. And if you’re still worried, talk to your doctor.