32 answers

Head Shaking

I am a first time mom so of course I am concerned with everything. My son just turned 8 mths and he is just growing like a weed. He has hit every milestone with flying colors. He crawled at 7 mths and is now standing alone for a few seconds. He has been eating baby food for 4 mths and just started eating some "real" food. He has 2 teeth and has said mama. Like I said reaching milestones. Here is the thing, he just within the last couple days started shaking his head. At first it was like 4 times total. Now it is about 10 times a day. No one seems to be concerned...but me. Everyone said if it was autisum he wouldn't be reaching milestones. Ive also heard it could be teething or ear infection. He has been teething and has had a slight cough. Can someone shed light and tell me their child is doing this and they are ok. I have a ped appointment on NOV 12, so if I need to take him earlier I will. I hope this is normal.

Thank you!

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T. -

I had a younger brother that did the head shaking. It was definitely an ear infection/ear problem issue.

L. L.

No need to worry as far as I know. My son started doing it some around that time and still does it (he's 10 months old now). I don't think he associates it with "no", but it's just something that feels different to them and they like learning how to do new things with their body.

Well, it could be completely normal and just something he's realized he can do... so he does it.

But it could also be a sign of ear infections.

Also, is he vaccinated? What vaccines did he receive right before he started this head shaking?

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My dd went through that stage. Here's my advice, shake your head back and forth really fast...I'll wait ;) Kind of a cool feeling right? Almost like being dizzy? He probably is just enjoying the new sensation and has figured out that shaking his head makes him feel a certain way. It's absolutely nothing to be worried about. We made it a game. When my dd would shake her head, we would too! She would giggle and giggle. Eventually she outgrew the phase and hasn't done it since. Give it time and this too shall pass. Just wait till he starts spinning in circles to get dizzy and falling over everything!

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We thought my daughter was autistic till she hit about 3 and was actually old enough to test, so i can tell you with some certainty that if this is the only thing you find odd and he's doing everything else he should be for his age it is NOT autism. dd didn't so much as hold her head up on her own till about 9 months and then the other milestones followed at the normal rate that they would have had she hit the first one on time. luckily she's 5 1/2 and healthy as can be and whatever the dealy was there are no signs of it now. I think the other posts said it very well, whatever is making him shake his head he's probally just decided it's cool and wants to keep doing it, or maybe it's something he picked up from you. i know i shake my head when i used to tell the kids no. you're in for a treat of such behaviors, my boys went through a walking into walls phase, a jumping of furniture phase, a banging head on floor phase, the i hate you and want a new mommy phase, that one hurt, biting, nail biting, thumb sucking, hitting, you name it, it's has been an eventful 9 years that i wouldn't trade for the world. enjoy the good and the more annoying and even the bad because it passes way to fast.

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I bet your kid gets the dizzy spins and this new sensation feels totally freaking cool! Why, I bet he's never had this feeling before and likes to try to recreate it to see if he can do it again and again and see if he gets the same results.

Think about it this way: When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to go to the carnival and ride the scrambler, the viking ship, or other rides that spun or shifted me around like crazy. They made me feel a little funny and it was cool. As an adult however, just thinking about those things make me a little nauseous.

Kids are going to do tons of weird things that have no explanation, but it doesn't mean they're not healthy or there's some underlying cause. They'll do it 'just 'cuz'". Your child might stick a few fingers down his throat to make himself gag or vomit. No, he's not a budding bulimic but he's learning something new. His little tiny fingers will find their way into his nostrils. He might not be digging for gold, but just amazed that he's found another place on his body that was undiscovered...and wait til he finds his private parts! Chances are he won't be thinking sexual thoughts, but more along the lines of "hey what's this...oh my, it feels different and kinda good!"

The head shaking sounds totally normal. Make sure he's away from walls or other object upon which he might bang his head. Also, try not to make a big deal out of it. If you draw attention to the activity, he'll learn that it is something to do to grab mommy's attention.

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T., I would not worry about your son. Like others have told you, babies often do things because of teething or having a cold. And sometimes when the shake their head they get a feeling of dizziness that after the first time they like that feeling, it is funny to them or it is comforting. He might just be doing it because he likes the way if feels. If he continues and you still feel concerned then ask your doctor.If everything else is normal for him I would relax and continue to enjoy his milestones. Babies are amazing. goodluck

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Hi T.! Last year around Thanksgiving my daughter was doing the same thing. She was 7 months at the time. We thought it was just that she had learned something new and was repeating us monkey-see monkey-do style. She did have a double ear infection that took 2 rounds of oral and ear drop meds to clear up. She was also crying at night when we put her down...we thought she was teething again and that is why she crying. I would have the ears checked because it is getting the time of year for it with the constant temp changes. Also, look for pulling on the ears which another sign of ear infection. Hope this helps!!


Autistic children can reach milestones and then later have an autism diagnosis. My son now five reach every milestone except a slight language delay that we did not notice until 2.5 years old. I am not saying that your child has autism but if you are concerned you can look up some signs and symptoms of autism on the net. I would also look into seizures. That could be why he is head shaking.


The thing is, the stuff you said about your son that was typical is more indicative of autism than shaking his head a few times. I don't say that to scare you or anybody, but the fact is that your son could seem perfect until age three and still have an autistic spectrum disorder. My suggestion to you, and to anyone who is worried about development is to read the simple early warning signs from Autismspeaks.org Take any of these warning signs seriously and if you see them, don't wait to see if they out grow it like uncle the your friend's cousin's step daugther who did the same thing and is now an honor student, find out from a professional. But if you don't see those signs, then don't worry!

Enjoy your baby.

i wouldn't worry. my little one did the same thing around the same time (and i was concerned as well). she just enjoyed doing it. as long as he seems fine and no other strange things that would make you worry then i'm sure he is o.k.

I watched a little boy before and he shook his head all
time like that and he had chronic ear infections and had
to have tubes put in his ears,but finally ou grew it.
My suggesstion would be if he keeps it up take him to his doctor.


Do you shake your head when you say "no, no" to him? Kids pick up gestures before they pick up words, so he may just be reflecting the head shaking back to you. Take note of when he does it and see if it might reflect him trying to say no to you or to express his dissatisfaction about something. Or it might just be a new trick for him :)

My baby didn't do that, but one of my best friends has a little boy who is now 13 months. She worried a lot about autism and he did the head shaking thing right around 8mos too. She was so worried, took him to the MD, etc - and it eventually went away on it's own. He definitely does NOT have autism - he is an interactive, social little boy. He also would sometimes hit his head on the ground repeatedly, which really worried her. Again, it was a phase and went away. (The head shaking did turn into him saying 'no' along with it - which is naughty but so funny!) It's good you worry, we all should worry adn be on the look-out - but I'm sure he's fine!!

Please try to calm down :) At 8 months, signs of autism are practically nonexistent. It's way too early to get a diagnosis anyway, and babies often flap their hands or head bob when excitied or engaged. I am in the profession of working with children with disabilities and I have found that most parents report atypical behaviors around age 1 1/2 - 3...but if it would make YOU :) more comfortable, please consult with your ped and I'm sure he/she will alleviate any fears. Good luck!

Hi T.- just to let you know- I have a 9 month old little boy. He is doing the same thing- shakes his head. I'm not concerned AT ALL. He also has a couple of little friends who are the same age and they do it too- so it doesn't worry me. On a side note- I taught special education for years and am now a director of special ed and have a lot of experience with Autism. Don't worry- I think he's fine!!!!

Well, it could be completely normal and just something he's realized he can do... so he does it.

But it could also be a sign of ear infections.

Also, is he vaccinated? What vaccines did he receive right before he started this head shaking?

I would mention something to your Ped. You want to rule out any type of seizure. Seizures can be very subtle.

HI I have a 9 year old with autsim, he reached all his milestones on time too, he used to talk, now he does not talk very much, he used to say about 30 words, now at age nine he has about 5, I am not trying to scare you but just keep an eye on your son. It may just be that he has figured out he can shake his head and he likes it. Read up on autism, you will either be prepared or just have an understanding for it. I was not willing to accept that my son was autistic but he is, he was diagnosed at age 2, he is a happy, healthy 9 year old. It is not the end of the world having one with autism but it is very challanging. We live life one day at a time and we have alot of fun. I hope this was helpful. Good luck with your little one!!


What kind of shaking? is it quick jerky movements or just simply shaking like saying no? I would guess he's teething.. My boy just turned one and he bangs his head on the floor. The pain gets pretty intense for them so they are looking for relief any where. I'd give it a few days if he gets worse or it just worries you then get him checked out. Rule out the physical stuff first before you jump on the Autism worry.
Good luck

Hi! My son started shaking his head back and forth when he was a few months old. He would do it in his crib as soon as we laid him down for sleep. I would notice it during the day, too, when he was sleepy. My hubby and I would peek at him sleeping in his bed as we were going to bed, and if he was disturbed at all he would shake his head again. He still does it when he is sleepy, but not very often any more. He will also still do it if he is sleeping and the light disturbs him when we peek at him. And, he will also do it if we do it back to him first and encourage it. He smiles and laughs when we do it back and forth. Sometimes he does it so hard that he will fall over. I always thought it was a silly thing he did, or maybe a comfort thing. But after reading some of the responses that others said about Autism, I am going to bring it up to his pediatrician at his 12 month check up. He isn't walking yet, doesn't say any words but babbles like crazy, and just started to crawl on his hands and knees (has been dragging himself around army style for several months now). So, I think he's on track developmentally. But, I will be safe and bring it up to the pediatrician. I think you should wait until your appointment and ask you pediatrician, too. Hope this helps!

T., my cousin (who is now two) did this during infancy as well, my aunt (also a first time mom) was concerned and took him to the doctor, he diagnosed Drew with allergies, and put him on a pediatric allergy medicine and the head shaking went away. Because babies can't communicate that their sinuses are stuffy (which they can be even without a runny nose) or their heads hurt the doctor said that they often shake their heads to make the pain go away. I would certainly discuss allergies as a possibility during your next appointment. I know right now is a really bad allergy time of year, so it would totally make sense if that was the reason your baby is shaking his head.

Good luck!

Hi T.! When you say shaking his head, do you mean like shaking his head as if to say "no" or as if he has a muscle issue that would cause ticks? If it's just shaking as if to say "no", then I wouldn't be concerned. He's probably just realizing that he has control of yet another body part. My daughter just turned one, and she will walk around shaking her head "no" sometimes and laughs. If you are at all concerned, I would call your pediatrician and see what they have to say. If they're concerned, they will have you take him in early. Good luck!

I have 4 kids, #5 due in the spring. All of my kids have done the head shaking (like saying no) at some point. With my first, I was concerned and we checked and found water in her ears. With the second and third, we decided they liked the movement and that was enough. With the 4th (who is now 11mos and just started shaking her head like she is saying yes to accompany the no shaking) she just laughs when she does it. There are SO many reasons for it, so don't be frightened by the responses on here. Likely there is no reason to rush to the dr since you already have an appt, but trust your instincts. You know yourself and your child better than anyone. Moms are smart, we just doubt ourselves too much!

Sounds like he realized he can control it and thinks it's fun to "rattle" himself:) Some kids shake their heads a lot, some bump them against the floor or wall...it's all natural.

I would think ears. As a mother of 5 I have seen a lot of ear infections become acute before the crying started. I would have his ears checked.
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my daughter did the same thing. The Dr said that it was a form of self stimulation. It wasn't anythiing harmful. She is now 7 and still on the right track developmentally.

Hi, my two year old was recently diagnosed with autism. He hit ALL of his milestones on time. Even had a 10-15 word vocab around 1 year.
When he was about six months, he would shake his head side to side all the time. He grew out of it within like 5-6 months.
His signs of autism are he flaps his arms, walks on his toes, plays NEXT to kids not with them, doesn't talk to anyone, doesn't like to be touched and is very very independent. But none of that happened until he was around 16-18 months. I think your little one is a little too young to be diagnosed, but by ALL means, please talk to your pediatrician.
I went through you know what the first year with my sons doctor. And then I got him into a new pediatrician, and even if he doesn't agree with something that I am concerned about, he still listens, and refers me to anyone that i need. And its a good thing too, or Lord only knows how long it would have been until this was found out.
I would go with the ENT route before you worry about autism. Could be vertigo or an ear infection... Dr.Wladecki in Westlake, is AMAZING with kids, and takes really great care of my son!
I also wouldn't move up your appointment, unless it keeps you from sleeping.

Good luck with everything and please keep us updated!

Hi T.,
My first son did the exact same thing. He was meeting milestones just fine and then around 10 months old he started shaking his head. A little a first and some days he did it many times a day. I was freaked out that something was wrong. I ended up talking to my ped. and she assured me that it was perfectly normal. Some little ones just like how it feels...after all they are at a stage where they are learning how there body works. You will be happy to know that my son is a happy, healthy 3 1/2 yr old right now and that he eventually grew out of it, but I think he might have been 15-18 months old before that happened. If I were you go ahead and mention it to your ped. at your scheduled visit, but I don't think you need to up your appt.
Hope this helps.


Hi T.. My 9mo old just started doing the same thing. We found it funny at first. Now he has put it to music. Every time one of his toys plays music or the t.v. or radio play a catchy tune he does it. I think he just figured out that he can move his head around. He does it a couple times then waits for us to do it back. We play like that many many times a day. I wouldn't worry. He's just growing up!!

Hi T.! I am a mother of three. I have an 8 year old boy, 6 year old daughter and 16 month old daughter. I have been married for 11 years this coming saturday anyway. My daughter rocks back and forth. she does this when she is in her crib that sometimes it is so bad I have to go in there and move her from the crib because she ends up hitting her head. I have notice when she has been playing for a long time and shes about to go down for her nap. If, I am late putting her down she will do this. she will start rocking back and forth. The docter isn't concern because he said it is a comfort thing for her. She does everything she is supose to be doing. well, for some reason she is not walking but shes almost there! She says up to five words and everything else she is suppose to be doing. He might be doing it for your attention or it might be a comfort thing to him. Good Luck! H. H.

T. -

I had a younger brother that did the head shaking. It was definitely an ear infection/ear problem issue.

L. L.

My son is now 2 1/2 but he did the same thing around that age. I think he was just exploring what the world was like when he shook his head. Sometimes he would do it before he went to sleep. He has stopped doing it now, is talking in full sentences, and even knows the letters of his alphabet. Don't worry so much. But do keep talking to your doctor durning his appointments and ask questions.


Hehe... Kids are funny. I'm also a first-time mom. My daughter just turned one. She, like your son, has also started this head shaking thing. Honestly, I think it's hillarious. She, like your son has met all her milestones & thensome. She crawled early, has been walking since 10 months, has a vocab of about 15 words now etc... So when she does it we think she's faking a cold-chill. LOL! Although, you do raise a good point. She does have an ear infection in her right ear. Took her to the doc on Friday. So, I guess it COULD be related to that. Who knows. Honestly though, I wouldn't worry about something as elaborate as autism or major problems. If you think ear infection, visit the doc. Otherwise, I'd say it's just kids being kids & being silly ones at that.

Take care & relax Mommy,

No need to worry as far as I know. My son started doing it some around that time and still does it (he's 10 months old now). I don't think he associates it with "no", but it's just something that feels different to them and they like learning how to do new things with their body.

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