Baby Shaking Head Side to Side

You notice your baby shaking their head side to side. It’s cute, it’s confusing, and it’s causing you some concern. Don’t panic! This behavior is usually part of their development.

However, it’s essential to understand when it’s a sign of something more serious. Let’s delve into why your little one might be doing this, when you should worry, and how you can gently discourage this head-shaking.Baby Shaking Head

Understanding Baby Shaking Head Side to Side

Observing your baby shaking their head from side to side can be pretty puzzling, sparking questions about this seemingly odd behavior. You may wonder if it’s normal or cause for concern. Don’t worry, and it’s usually part of their development.

It can be a playful gesture, a sign they’re full during feeding, or simply discovering their body movements. Sometimes, it’s how they soothe themselves to sleep. However, if it becomes incessant, it could indicate ear infections or autism. You’ll need to monitor their other behaviors for signs.

If there’s excessive crying, loss of appetite, or delays in speaking, it’s best to consult a doctor. Understanding your baby’s actions helps you respond appropriately.

How to Stop Head Shaking

If your little one’s head shaking becomes excessive, there are a few steps you can take to address this behavior. Firstly, try not to overreact. It’s easy to worry, but remember, this phase will often pass independently.

Next, distract them with a toy or activity they love. This could be enough to break the head-shaking pattern. If it continues, consider the environment. Are they trying to signal discomfort or irritation? Perhaps a change in lighting or noise level might help.

Lastly, if you’re still concerned, consult your pediatrician. They can rule out any underlying health issues and provide professional advice tailored to your baby’s needs.

Why might a baby start shaking their head?

You might be wondering why your little one has started shaking their head.

This behavior could be due to developmental reasons, medical conditions, or even during nursing.

Let’s explore each of these possibilities to understand better what’s happening.

Developmental reasons

You might notice your baby shaking their head from side to side for a few developmental reasons.

It could be a simple act of experimentation, an attempt to listen to sounds more clearly, or even a form of early communication.

Each of these behaviors is a crucial part of their growth, so it’s important to understand them.


One primary reason your baby might start shaking his or her head side to side is experimentation. As babies grow, they discover new motor skills and learn how their body moves, which can involve shaking their head to see what happens.

It’s a part of their self-discovery process, and usually, there’s no need for concern.

Listening to sounds

While it might seem unusual, your baby could be shaking their head side to side to test their hearing and respond to different sounds they’re encountering. This is a part of their sensory development.

It’s their way of figuring out where sounds come from and how they can control their reactions to these new auditory experiences.


In the journey of your baby’s developmental milestones, head shaking can also serve as a form of early communication. This behavior might be your little one’s way of saying ‘no,’ or simply responding to a new sensation.

It’s a sign they’re exploring their body’s abilities and interacting with their environment, an essential step in their overall growth.Baby Shaking Head

Medical reasons

While shaking one’s head side to side is often a typical phase in development, sometimes it can indicate a medical concern.

It could be something as simple as an ear infection causing discomfort or more complex issues like Autism or neurological disorders.

It’s crucial to monitor this behavior and consult a healthcare professional if it persists or is accompanied by other worrisome signs.

Pain or ear infection

Feeling discomfort from pain or an ear infection could be causing your baby to shake their head from side to side. It’s a non-verbal cue that something’s wrong.

  • Your infant’s delicate ears are prone to infections.
  • An uncontrollable head shake can be a plea for relief.
  • A persistent earache can disrupt your baby’s sleep.
  • Infections left untreated can lead to severe complications.
  • Your prompt action can soothe your baby’s distress.

Autism and other developmental issues

Several medical reasons, such as autism or other developmental issues, could cause your baby to start shaking their head side to side. This action may be a self-soothing behavior or a way to express discomfort.

Remember, though, it’s not a definitive sign of a developmental disorder. Always consult a pediatrician if you’re concerned about your child’s behaviors or developmental milestones.

Neurological disorders

Moving on from developmental issues, you should also be aware that certain neurological disorders could prompt your baby to start shaking his or her head side to side.

  • Epilepsy: Unexpected, recurrent seizures could be a cause.
  • Cerebral Palsy: This disorder affects muscle coordination.
  • Brain tumors: Rare yet severe, leading to various symptoms.
  • Neuroblastoma: A rare cancer that often starts in the adrenal glands.
  • Huntington’s Disease: An inherited disease causing the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.

Shaking head when nursing

Noticing your baby shaking their head side to side during nursing can be quite puzzling, but it’s often a part of their exploration and learning about their surroundings. This movement helps them to hone their motor skills and discover how their body works.

Your baby might also be trying to get comfortable. They’re still new to nursing and may need to adjust their position to feed properly. Sometimes, it’s their way of indicating that they’ve had enough milk.

In some cases, it could be a sign of an ear infection. They might shake their head to alleviate discomfort if they’re in pain. However, if your baby frequently shakes their head or shows other signs of distress, it’s wise to consult a pediatrician.

Should I Worry?

Should you be concerned if your baby repeatedly shakes his or her head from side to side? While it’s often just a phase, there are instances where it could be a sign of a more severe condition. Therefore, staying alert and observing your baby’s behavior closely is essential.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Babies experiment: They’re exploring their bodies and reactions. Head shaking can be part of that.
  • It could be a comfort mechanism: Some babies shake their heads to soothe themselves to sleep.
  • Look for other signs: If other troubling symptoms exist, it’s time to worry.
  • Consult a pediatrician: When in doubt, always consult a health professional.
  • Trust your instincts: As a parent, your intuition is powerful. If something feels off, investigate further.

When Shaking Signals Something Is Wrong

While your baby’s head shaking can be harmless, it’s crucial to know when it’s a sign of your little one’s discomfort or a potential health issue. If the shaking is persistent, accompanied by other peculiar behaviors, or occurs more frequently during certain times, something might be off.

For instance, if your child is fussier than usual, not eating well, or exhibiting a fever alongside the head shaking, it’s a good idea to consult your pediatrician. These could be indicators of an ear infection or other health concerns.

Also, it’s worth checking out if your baby’s head shaking interferes with their sleep or daily activities. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry about your little one’s health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Average Age When Babies Start Shaking Their Heads Side to Side?

You’re curious about when certain behaviors start in infants. Generally, they begin shaking their heads side to side around 6-9 months. It’s a normal part of development as they explore movement and their environment.

How Long Does the Baby Shaking Head Side to Side Phase Typically Last?

Just like seasons change, your little one’s head-shaking phase varies. Typically, it’ll last a few weeks to months. Remember, they’re just exploring new movements; it’s a part of their beautiful growth journey.

Can Head Shaking Affect a Baby’s Sleep Patterns?

Yes, it can. Your baby’s head shaking might interfere with their sleep patterns. They may do it to self-soothe before sleep, but if it becomes excessive, it could disrupt sleep, causing restlessness or frequent waking.

Are There Any Specific Toys or Activities That Can Encourage or Discourage Head Shaking in Babies?

You’ll find toys that promote tracking skills, like mobiles or light-up toys, that can encourage head movement. However, it would help if you didn’t aim to discourage natural head-shaking unless it’s causing concern, then consult a pediatrician.

Does the Baby Shaking Head Side to Side Have Any Long-Term Developmental Effects?

No, your baby’s not practicing for a future in headbanging music. Shaking their head side to side doesn’t have long-term developmental effects. It’s a normal part of their motor skills development. Don’t worry!


So, your little one’s been shaking their head side to side. It might seem puzzling, even problematic, but it’s often just part of their exploration.

Picture your baby, bright-eyed, captivated by the world around them, intrigued by each new sensation. However, if this shaking persists or is coupled with other troubling signs, it’s time to seek professional advice.

Trust your instincts, and you know your baby best. No question is too small when it comes to their wellbeing.



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