Babies flap their arms as a way to improve their motor skills. At first, babies do not have good control over where their arms and hands go. However, with practice, babies perfect their ability to move their arms around.
According to the Healthy Life Journal, babies may also flap their arms when they get excited or when they are feeding. Babies may flap their arms when they are upset. By flapping their arms, babies are learning to interact with their world. They eventually start to learn to control their flapping, and then the baby is able to selectively move his arms for more defined purposes.
Parents may worry that their baby's arm flapping might indicate autism. However, the Healthy Life Journal states there is no link between early arm flapping and autism. One symptom of autism can be flapping the arms, but it tends to look different than the arm flapping of infants under the age of 1. In children with autism, their arms tend to flap at the elbows with their hands up in the air.
If a parent has a concern about their baby's arm flapping or behaviors in any way, it is best for them to contact the baby's primary care physician to get a professional opinion as to whether the concern needs intervention.