When you see your baby shaking their head back and forth, you may dismiss it at first. You may think that it is nothing and not worry about it. When they keep shaking their head over and over again, you may start to worry that something more serious could be wrong. Checking online probably does not help because some of the forums can scare you with learning disability, ear conditions and other potential problems.
In many cases, a baby shaking their head back and forth is not a sign of anything to worry about. Babies may just do this during their development. If it keeps happening though, there is no harm in talking to your doctor about it. Your baby is probably just developing their motor skills, but your doctor can let you know for sure if this symptom is just part of their normal development or a sign of a more major problem.
Babies Shaking Head Back and Forth: Is It a Problem?
In the majority of cases, your baby shaking his or head back and forth is perfectly normal. When babies are developing, they gain an understanding of the world around them. If they see you shaking your head, then they may try to imitate you. They may also be learning how to control their body. If you pay attention to them when they shake their head, they may also keep doing it again because they love when you pay attention to them.
There are times when shaking the head indicates an ear infection. He or she may shake their head in an effort to unblock the inner ear and become more comfortable. They may also shake their head because they are just tired. If the shaking is caused by an ear infection, go to the doctor. Seek medical help immediately if your baby has an infection, cold or fever. You should make sure to go to the doctor as well if your baby is suddenly inactive and stops moving as much as normal.
Does My Baby Have Autism?
While parents may worry that their child could have autism, this is actually not as common as you think. When you see your baby shaking their head vigorously from side to side, you may be worried about this. We will go over the common signs of autism though just in case this is the cause.
Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder
– Poor social interactions
– Does not share normal interests or enjoyment
– Does not respond when you call his or her name
– Does not keep your gaze
– Is not warm or joyful in their emotions
– Nonverbal coordination is uncoordinated
– Generally has poor communication skills
– Does not use gestures
– Speaks with an abnormal rhythm, abnormal voice quality, irregular pitch or odd intonation
– Repeats movements
– Has repeated behaviors
– Regression or total loss of acquired skills when the baby reaches about 19 to 21 months old
– Loses language skills
– Repeated movements with objects
– Limited interests compared to other babies
– Loses social skills like maintain eye contact or social smiling
If you think that your child may have autism, then you should go to your doctor. Listen to your instincts. There is no harm in going to the doctor to find out that nothing is wrong, but it could hurt your child’s development if they have autism and you discover it late. Most likely though, the head shaking is not a sign of autism.
If your child does have autism, there are a few things that you can do.
1. Talk to your doctor right away. The chances of proper treatment and management of the disorder improves if it is diagnosed early. About one out of three parents who have an autistic child notice the symptoms before the child is a year old. About 80 percent of parents could tell the early signs before their child was two. There is no harm in going to your doctor to check for sure.
2. Learn how to deal with other people. Other people may dismiss your worries and tell you not to get help. There is no harm in getting help. You will either find out that nothing is wrong, or you will be able to get treatment earlier.
3. As your child ages, talk to their school district. There are often special education options that your child can use as they go through school.
What Other Odd Behaviors Can I Expect?
Sometimes, toddlers may engage in self-soothing behaviors that you may find to be odd. In many cases though, these self-soothing behaviors are perfectly normal. The only time to worry is if they happen a lot or the baby causes themselves any harm.
Pulling or Twisting the Hair: Toddlers may twist their hair or their parents’ hair as they start to fall asleep.
Body Rocking: Rocking the body back and forth is a way for toddlers to soothe themselves. They may also rock on their knees and hands. This is similar to the motion you use when rocking a cradle or a rocking chair.
Banging Their Head: Banging their head against a crib, wall or furniture may be a self-soothing mechanism, but you have to be careful to prevent the baby from injuring themselves.
Tics: Babies may have facial, vocal or body tics. They may repeat sounds or twitch as they soothe themselves and go to sleep.
Stroking a Body Part: A toddler may stroke their ears, stomach, private parts or feet as a self-soothing technique.
Help Your Baby’s Development During Their First Year of Life
There are different ways that you can help your baby develop during the first year of their life.
1. 0 to 3 Months
Hand movements are involuntary at this stage because of the palmar reflex. Later, making a fist or grasping your finger become voluntary movements. Support their development by using a rattle in the baby’s palm. Encourage your child to play on their stomach to strengthen the muscles in the shoulders, arms, hands and back. Try dangling toys in the playroom because batting the toys will help with their hand-eye coordination.
2. 4 to 6 Months
Babies begin to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in this stage. They can grab their own toys and move objects between hands. You can support them through hand games like pat-a-cake. Teach them to hold a toy by pressing it into his or her hands. Try changing the baby’s position when they play so that they use their motor skills in different ways.
3. 7 to 9 Months
During this stage, your baby is able to completely handle their toys. They can hit them, shake them, throw them or drop them. Now, the baby is trying to learn how to eat on its own. Once pincer skills develop, they will be able to grip a spoon to eat. Let your baby make messes now because they are still trying to figure everything out. Try to let your baby do things on their own as much as possible so that they can learn and become independent. Also, try to support their back and shoulders when they play so that they can focus on using their fingers.
4. 10 to 12 Months
Now, your baby is ready to take on harder tasks. They can point to what they want, hug and use hand signals. They can now hold your hand, clap along to music and reach for things. Use clay to teach your baby to poke holes in it and use their fingers. You can also attach different colored yarns to each finger so that the baby learns how to move their fingers independently.
There are many books that can help you with child development ideas. Your doctor can also provide advice and let you know if your child is developing normally.