Head Banging, Body Rocking, Head Rolling etc

Though head banging, body rocking and head rolling are often concerning to parents, most of the time they are totally normal and harmless. What seems like a really strange thing to do to us is actually really soothing for babies. This is why they are more likely to occur when a baby/toddler is going to sleep, during sleep, upon awakening, while listening to music, or at times of stress or pain (teething). It may also occur more often, or for the first time, during developmental milestones. These "soothing exercises" usually occur between 3 months to 3 years of age (longer if it occurs during sleep). A child harming himself during this would be extremely rare and not something that you should really worry yourself about (since I'm sure you are worrying about it as I speak :)

If it starts after 18 months or lasts much longer than 3 years you may want to notify your doctor since it may be due to a neurological problem, stress or anxiety.

Also, a baby shaking his head back and forth for fun is really common (and lots of fun for baby). Go ahead and shake your head along with baby and have some fun together :)


  1. My baby shakes her head vigorously from side to side when put down to sleep, and wakes herself up (whether fully asleep or just drowsy). What can we do to prevent this or stop it waking her?

    1. Audrey,
      A big thing I've found that decreases it is preventing overtiredness. So you can try to do that but sometimes you can't do too much. If a baby chooses to do that to settle themselves, you have to let them do it until they find something else that they prefer instead. My guess is that maybe the head shaking isn't actually keeping her awake--she is just struggling falling asleep with or without the head shaking.