Baby Moving Head Side To Side Rapidly: Is That Normal?


More often, it can be very alarming for moms if they experience their babies’ heads moving from side to side rapidly. While it is okay if they are just playing and shaking their heads, there are times that it can be quite different.

For instance, the rapid head movement may be uncomfortable or a sign of discomfort on your baby. These jerky movements may sometimes be a development sign, but in other cases, they may also be a little bit of concern. In this article, we will be looking at the possible reasons why your baby’s head shakes from side to side all of a sudden, and if it is normal.

Possible Reasons of Rapid Head Movement

Here are the possible reasons for such rapid head side movement:

  1. Developmental Stage

Your baby may be in the developmental stage in which they are still trying to get used to using their muscles and other body parts. Frequent head shaking, in this case, may be just a little bit of extra when it comes down to this process and is not totally alarming. As a newborn or infant, they are still trying their best to get used to control different parts of their body, which includes their head.

  1. Maneuvering their Body

As we mentioned before, maneuvering or controlling their body parts may be a bit of a challenge due to these frequent shakes. It’s not just their head but also their other body parts – and it can occur around 5 to 6 months of age.

  1. Simple Playing Gestures

Maybe there’s not much threat to it after all if your baby is just using the head shake as a form of playing gesture, right? If you often play with your little one, chances are, since they don’t know how to communicate properly yet, they may shake different parts of their body or their head just to let you know that they are responding to playtime.

  1. Trying to Latch On

When you are breastfeeding your baby or attempting your child to be breastfed, this can occur when they are about 3 months of age or are beginning their nursing stage. This is due to being excited when they are trying to latch on to their mom.

  1. Ear Infection or Teething

When your baby is developing teeth or having earaches, this head shaking can happen. This is due to some manner of anxiety or pain that is making them suffer a bit, in which case your doctor or pediatrician can give advice if it is mild or severe, and what actions you should take. But if your baby shakes due to normal teething then it’s usually nothing to worry about.

  1. Possible Dizziness or Fatigue

Your baby may be experiencing some sort of fatigue or dizziness due to an action, such as rides or traveling. However, some babies shake their heads and they fall asleep much faster than before.

  1. Possible Sign of Autism

This does not mean that side head movement automatically equates to autism. You should couple it with a few other signs of autism for it to be valid. For instance, the following are the other signs of autism that you can find, and if it goes with the head shaking, then that’s when you need to be concerned:

  1. Communication problems
  2. Poor language skills
  3. Poor social interaction
  4. Headbanging due to anxiety
  5. Repetitive behavior
  6. Unable to reach developmental milestones

Read more about Autism at Autism Parenting Magazine

How to Stop Baby from Side-to-Side Movement

  1. Ignore them when they’re shaking their head

This can help your child to voluntarily and eventually stop the shaking behavior, sort of like a signal that says “I’m not interested so stop doing that”.

  1. Relax them with massage oil

You can help relax your baby by giving them a relaxing massage with soothing oil that’s safe for their skin, which can alleviate any tension. Because there are different massage oils and essential oils out there, you should know which ones are safe for your little ones, as they have sensitive skin and nose so you should pick one that’s not too harsh for them.

  1. Remove all stressful environmental factors

Keep them away from anything that’s stressful, such as unwanted noise and other distractions, which may cause some anxiety for them.

  1. Note how much the shaking occurs

Take note of how long the shaking happens and how severe or mild it is, for reference. Do they shake on a certain time of the day? Does it happen when they are being fed, before feeding or after meals? This usually depends on what causes your baby to shake from side to side.

  1. In extreme cases, consult a doctor

If you suspect that your baby’s condition may be a little worrying, you can go to the pediatrician for a check-up and tell the doctor on how much and how often the shaking occurs, so that they can make a correct diagnosis for your little one. Your pediatrician will then give some advice or medication to help alleviate the tension of your baby to keep them from constantly shaking their head.


To put it all together, babies can move their head from side to side and it’s usually normal. Most of the cases include developmental stage symptoms like teething and moments during breastfeeding, which can happen to many babies out there and not just yours.

However, you should still be observant and look at the other symptoms and signs that are around and take note of them before coming into a conclusion and going straight to the emergency room. Different babies could have varying development rates so the head shaking thing may not happen to your baby at all (if you’re lucky enough).

We hope that this small guide can help you to identify if your little one’s condition is something to worry about or not. If you are still unsure if your baby’s head shaking is normal or not, it’s still best to consult your pediatrician for more details.

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