Baby Shaking Head Side to Side – Should You Worry or Not?

New mothers watch for any potential behavior that is unusual or concerning from their baby. So many people are afraid of Autism or other developmental problems that anything out of the ordinary becomes an alarming occurrence. A baby shaking head side to side may seem like abnormal behavior that is disturbing, but in many cases, there is nothing to worry about.

If you do notice this action from your child, there are many things you need to know.

Reasons for Baby Shaking Head Side to Side

A baby will shake their head from side to side when they are confused or interested in something. As a parent, it is important to keep an eye on this behavior and monitor it. From three to seven months, a baby often does this action out of fatigue or boredom.

Many young children use this as a defense mechanism when they feel sleepy, or they want to get control over their body. Oddly enough, some even like that dizzy feeling that a vigorous head shake gives. If the child is suffering from an ear infection, then the shaking could be for comfort. If the shaking follows a fever and an inactive spell, then make sure to check with their pediatrician.

Here are seven common reasons why your baby might be shaking their head.

​1. Inner Ear Infection

The first thing that should be considered with this type of behavior is an ear infection. When the infection is in the inner ear, it will cause dizziness. The body automatically tries to compensate for this vertigo. Your baby may feel relief when they move their head about as they are balancing their equilibrium.

If the behavior continues, a simple examination of the ears is a good place to start. Also, you should check the symptoms to diagnose an ear infection correctly.

​2. Boredom

Do you remember twirling around in circles when you were little? Many children twirl until they are so dizzy that they fall. Yes, they pick themselves up and do it all over again. The reason is nothing to be distressed about, but they just love that feeling. Your baby may simply be bored and look for a way to entertain themselves.

3. Self-Soothing

Babies do many things to soothe themselves. They will pull their ears, hair, or kick a leg to calm down. Shaking their head from side to side is just another way for them to soothe. They have nervous energy and try to work it off the best they can. They feel things at the base of their neck, so this rapid movement gives them new sensations that they are learning to use.

​4. Sleepiness

baby fight sleep at times

​Even as adults you fight sleep at times. You lay there thinking about all the things you need to do. A child will almost always fight sleep. They want to play and spend time with you. They don’t want to go to sleep. Just like you, a baby may feel they are going to miss out on something when they close their eyes. This behavior is completely normal for a child at any age.

​5. Autism

It’s a fallacy that head shaking is always a sign of autism. When it’s an isolated event, this is not necessarily true. However, if additional signs accompany it, then you need to seek further testing. Other signs related to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) include:

  • Lack of social interaction
  • checkThe absence of communication skills
  • checkDisplaying repetitious behaviors
  • checkLosing skills they once acquired

Parents that notice any of the above signs need to see a pediatrician.

6. Infant Shutter Syndrome

A child moving their head back and forth may be a sign of ISS. This condition corrects itself over time, and it’s not a cause for alarm. Infant Shutter Syndrome is due to an immature nervous system. The various sensations cause these movements. These involuntary head shutters are not a cause for alarm. They should stop by the time they are one-year old.

7. Seizures

Seizures are a sudden attack of illness that occurs in the central nervous system. Numerous signs can point to a seizure, but there are some not so noticeable symptoms too. For instance, your baby could be staring off into space, almost daydreaming, and is having a seizure. Head shuttering from side to side can be another sign. An EEG can quickly reveal if the child has epilepsy.

When to Be Concerned with Head Shaking?

Although many times, this action is a benign behavior, there are some instances when it’s a cause for alarm. If your child begins to bang their head against the wall, furniture or cribs or pulling their hair and rocking, are all concerning signs. Most of these behaviors are visible at bedtime when a child is trying to soothe themselves.However, any of the actions mentioned above should be evaluated by a pediatrician to ensure that something more developmental isn’t occurring. It’s important to monitor a child carefully, especially in the first 24 months of life. Severe conditions, like Autism, can be observed from an early age.

In Conclusion

You shouldn’t be worried if your baby doesn’t stop shaking his head unless you notice other symptoms as well. Mainly, your kid might be feeling sleepy or bored. If this behavior continues for a longer period, you should look into his ears and pay attention to signs of autism. A regular check up with his pediatrician is the best way to diagnose every problem early on and to ensure he gets the best treatment.


About The Author

Mike Jones is always seeking new alternative treatments to traditional pills. For more of his health articles, check his Twitter @mike_jones25.

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Sarah Palmer
Hi! I'm Sarah. My husband and I have a beautiful little girl; plus we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby #2, so this is a very exciting time for us. Throughout this amazing journey called Parenthood, I’ve learned so much and love sharing my experiences with other parents at I'd love to share my discoveries with you too!
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  1. […] Baby Shaking Head Side to Side : Should You Worry or Not? […]

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