When and How to Do Kick Counts (Fetal movement count)

If you’re wondering about kick counts, you’ve likely already felt your baby’s first movements and have gotten used to those little jolts and jabs. As you enter the final trimester of your pregnancy and near your due date, you might be ready to start kick counts to track your little one’s movement. Read on to learn more about what kick counts are, when to start them, and how many kicks you might feel per hour.

What Are Kick Counts?

Kick counts are just as they sound: counting your baby’s kicking and other movements. Once you feel your little one move for the first time, called quickening, you’ll likely become more aware of them wiggling and squirming, and you may notice a pattern over time. Eventually, you might even be able to anticipate your baby’s movements!

But as your baby develops and grows bigger in your third trimester, there’s less room in the uterus and there’ll be a natural decrease in movement. Kick counts are simply a way to track and monitor your baby’s movement to ensure everything is going well.

Why Is It Important to Count Kicks?

Your baby’s movements naturally decrease later in your pregnancy, so your healthcare provider might want to keep track of those movements to ensure that all is well. A significant or noticeable drop in fetal movement could be a sign of a problem, possibly with the placenta or umbilical cord. Fetal kick counts will help your healthcare provider determine if there’s a problem and catch it early to prevent any severe issues.

As you prepare for counting kicks, feel free to use our downloadable fetal movement tracker below!

When to Start Kick Counts

As you make your way through the trimesters of pregnancy, you might wonder when the right time is to start kick counts. Your healthcare provider will be the one to recommend it and suggest when to start counting kicks.

The counting process could begin in the second trimester, as you’ll likely first start noticing movement after 20 weeks, but it’s more likely that you'll start doing kick counts in the third trimester as labor nears.

As you focus on preparing for labor, your little one is doing the same, dropping into delivery position. If they’re lower in your pelvis, they’ll have less room to move around. Your healthcare provider may want to track fetal kicks in the final days or weeks of your pregnancy to monitor your little one’s health.

When to Start Kick Counts With an Anterior Placenta

Perhaps you’ve been told you have an anterior placenta, a term that refers to the placenta being positioned in front of the uterus, between your uterus and belly. In that case, it might be more difficult to feel your baby’s movements in general, as the placenta is basically getting in the way! Your healthcare provider can offer advice on when to start and how to do kick counts with an anterior placenta.

How to Do Kick Counts

If you’re instructed to start kick counts, your healthcare provider will likely ask you to keep track of how long it takes to feel 10 movements. You don’t need any special equipment to count your baby’s kicking and you can easily do it at home. Below you’ll find general instructions on how to count kicks, but it’s always best to work with your healthcare provider and follow their directions.

Instructions: Kick Counts

Tracking fetal kick counts might be easier than it sounds, but it does take a little practice. Follow these instructions to get started and learn how to do kick counts:

  1. Choose the right time. For starters, try to choose a time when your baby is likely to be active and not sleeping. You probably know your little one’s pattern of movement, so you can use that knowledge to settle on a time, keeping in mind that most babies have short sleep cycles that last from 20 to 40 minutes. After a meal is often when babies are more active, so that is often a good time to do kick counts.

  2. Relax. It’s important to calm your mind and body so you can focus on counting kicks. Sit down, drink some water, and breathe deeply.

  3. Lie on your left side. It’s easier to feel your baby’s movements if you position yourself on your left side.

  4. Set a timer. When counting your baby’s kicking, you’ll need to know how many movements you feel in a specific time (typically two hours). You can use a timer or check the clock and write down the time you start.

  5. Start counting. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions for this part, but typically, they’ll ask you to track how long it takes to feel your baby move 10 times and to repeat this daily. It’s a good sign if it takes 2 hours or less to count these 10 movements. Another method is to count how many kicks you feel in just one hour and repeat it three days per week. It’s a reassuring sign if the number of kicks stays consistent.

Your goal is to count only kicks and other stronger movements. If you're wondering whether hiccups count as kick counts, no, they do not. So, when you start counting kicks, be sure to ignore those adorable hiccups!

How Often “Should” You Feel Your Baby Kick?

You’re certainly not the only one wondering how often you “should” feel a baby move. Every baby is different, but as mentioned above, a general guideline would be to detect 10 kick counts in 2 hours or less. If it takes longer to feel those 10 movements, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong, but your healthcare provider can decide if they’d like to implement any further testing or monitoring.

What’s more important is observing consistent movement. There’s no “normal” daily fetal movement count, as every baby has their own level of activity. This is why the second method of counting your baby’s kicking for one hour, three days per week, is another option. Instead of focusing on how many kicks per hour, you’re looking for consistency. It’s common for babies to move at least four times in one hour, which is still a good sign.

Another common question you might be asking yourself is, how many times a day should I do kick counts? Always heed your healthcare provider’s advice, but most likely, you won’t be counting baby kicks more than once a day!


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How to “Get” Your Baby to Kick More

Of course, you can’t “get” a baby to do anything, especially inside your belly! If this isn’t your first child, you probably already know that. But is it possible to encourage your little one to move? Or maybe you’re wondering how to wake up your baby for kick counts. Though your little one might still ignore you and continue snoozing or relaxing, you could try the following methods to stimulate fetal movement inside the uterus:

  • Eat a meal or drink something sugary

  • Tap on your abdomen

  • Go for a walk

  • Play music or talk to your belly.

Doing any of the above could prompt your baby to move around but remember that your little one might be too squished to make any noticeable jerks and jabs. This means that when you think your baby isn't moving, they actually could be active.

When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider

As mentioned, it’s common for your baby’s kicks and movements to gradually decrease as you near labor. Think of it this way: Your little one has less and less room to move around as they grow bigger, and they’re saving up energy for the big arrival!

But if you notice a significant drop in activity or no activity for a few days, relax and lie on your side and count how often you feel your baby move. If it’s less than four times an hour, or if you’re feeling concerned or worried, contact your healthcare provider. Most likely, there’s nothing wrong, but it’s always best to check and catch any problems early.

US Kick Counts


Every baby is different, so it’s difficult to determine how many kicks you “should” feel per hour. Typically, babies move at least four times in an hour. And if you’re doing kick counts, a common baseline is 10 movements in 2 hours. Your healthcare provider will be able to offer advice and instructions for your specific situation.

The Bottom Line

Kick counts are a way to understand your baby’s pattern of movement and track those movements later in your pregnancy. As your baby bump grows or your little one drops into position for labor, there’s less room to move around. This might cause you to notice a decrease in fetal movement, so counting kicks helps your healthcare provider know that everything is still going well. You’ll want to work with your healthcare provider to determine when to start kick counts and how to do them. However, there are at least two common methods. One looks for at least 10 movements within 2 hours and the other monitors consistency by tracking kicks for 1 hour at least 3 days per week. Babies have unique levels of activity, so yours might be more or less active than others. Therefore, it’s best to work closely with your healthcare provider to address your specific situation rather than relying on what’s considered “normal.” Most likely, a decrease in movement just means your little one is getting bigger and resting up for the big day! As you anticipate your due date, don’t forget to download the Pampers Club app and earn rewards on all those diapers and wipes you’re going to need!

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.