When Can Baby Kicks Be Seen on the Outside?

If you’re starting to feel your baby move on the inside you may wonder when you can see the baby kick on the outside. While feeling kicks is a very special moment of joy, seeing them makes your baby’s arrival seem much more real.

You may even want your partner to be able to see your little one moving around. It happens at different times for different women and babies. One thing is for sure, you will be watching your belly for stretches and kicks that are visible through your skin. This article will explain when first kicks are felt, when they can approximately be seen from the outside, and things you can do to get your baby moving.

 

When Can You See The Baby Kick On The Outside?

You may begin to see your baby move on the outside sometime after the 25th week of pregnancy, but more commonly after the 30th week. Some women see it earlier due to a thinner frame, less abdominal fat tissue, and a really strong kicker. It also depends on if your placenta is situated to the front or back of your uterus. If the placenta is front oriented, the first kicks may even be felt later in the pregnancy. 

The first actual “flutters” are usually felt sometime after the 16th week of pregnancy. Many new moms who are in their first pregnancy may not even feel movement until the 20th week. Moms who have had more than one pregnancy may recognize these tiny movements that feel like “bubbles” around the 13th week.

For the majority of women, the first visual movements often happen from the 28th week on. You may just be sitting there watching tv when you notice what looks like a foot or hand go across your belly. 

Fetal Movement: What Should I Look for and When?

There are some general timelines when movement can be felt, and seen. Remember, it differs from pregnancy to pregnancy. Here is a guide by weeks of pregnancy: 

  • 0 to 12 Weeks - Your baby is still very tiny, so movements may not be felt during these weeks. Some women do claim they “feel something” inside. This is more of an instinctive feeling of knowing your baby is there more than a physical sensation.
  • 13 to 15 Weeks - A small number of women do report feeling something like “bubbles” or “flutters” anywhere from the 13th to 15th week of pregnancy. At this time you may ask friends, “when can you see the baby kick on the outside?” Still, your baby is too small to be seen this early on.
  • 16 to 20 Weeks - This is the time when most women can feel the “flutters” and “bubbles” inside. Baby is still too small to be seen on the outside, but you may be well aware they are in there doing a little dance. This is around the time of your first ultrasound exam, and you will definitely be able to see them moving on the inside at this time.
  • 21 to 27 Weeks - Movement starts to increase during this time. Some women even report hiccups at this time. Kicks and jabs still feel tiny and you most likely won’t see them yet. There have been a few reports of stomach movement as early as 25 to 26 weeks, but it is rare.
  • 28 to 32 Weeks - Your baby is growing fast and is really able to give a good kick now. This is the time when you may see the first “rolls” and “swipes” with your baby’s legs or arms. You may even notice a rhythmic bounce with the hiccups. If you have extra abdominal fat or the placenta is up front, you may have to wait a few more weeks before you see anything.
  • 33 Weeks to Birth - It’s getting crowded in there! During these weeks you will most likely be able to see most of your baby’s movements. You may also see them “flip” into the birth position during this time. When this happens, your stomach will morph like a huge wave. Kicks can sometimes be so fierce during these weeks, you may get a bruised rib or lose your breath from them.

How to See Baby’s Kicks

If you want to actually see some kicks, it will have to be the right time. The best week to try this is around the 28th week. You will also have to give your baby a reason to wake up and move. Get your video recorder ready and try these tips:

  1. Eat or Drink Something

Food and beverages give your baby energy, just like you. If your baby isn’t kicking, try eating or drinking something to wake them up. If you aren’t suffering from gestational diabetes, eat something sweet or high in carbs.

  1. Lie Still

If you are moving around, the rocking of your body lulls baby to sleep. If you eat or drink something, take a break and be still for 20 to 30 minutes. When can you see the baby kick on the outside? When you are resting after a meal is probably one of the best times.

  1. Place Your Hand on Your Belly

If you aren’t seeing anything at first, place your hand on your belly to feel how baby is positioned. If you are not seeing the jabs, it could be the baby’s back is to the front of your body.

  1. Move a Finger Across

There have been cases of baby following mom’s finger or hand. If your baby is awake and kicking, try taking one finger and moving it slowly across your belly. They may follow you with a foot or a hand.

  1. Try Catching Movement During Ultrasounds

Babies tend to move a lot during ultrasounds. They don’t like the doppler and move to get away from the pressure. You may see an actual punch or kick right at the doppler. For later ultrasounds around 32 to 34 weeks, you may want to have your partner come along to see the antics.