Baby Teething Symptoms: Head Shaking and More

baby shaking head side to side teething

Today, we’re diving deep into a topic that has many new parents scratching their heads—baby teething symptoms.

If you’ve noticed your little one shaking their head from side to side and you’re wondering if it’s related to teething, you’re in the right place.

Teething is a significant milestone in your baby’s development, but it can also bring about behaviors and symptoms that are puzzling, to say the least.

From head shaking to sleep disruptions, we’ll cover it all to help you understand what’s normal, what’s not, and when to consult your pediatrician.

So grab a cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and let’s demystify the world of baby teething together!

Exploring Baby Teething Symptoms

Teething is a critical milestone in a baby’s life, usually starting around the 6-month mark and continuing until they are about 3 years old.

During this period, your baby will grow 20 primary teeth, which are present beneath the gum line even at birth.

But as these teeth start to erupt, they often bring along a variety of symptoms that can be quite challenging to decipher for first-time parents.

Recognizing the Signs of Teething

When your baby begins to teethe, you may observe some clear signs such as:

  • Increased drooling
  • Fussiness and irritability
  • Gnawing or biting on hard objects
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns

In some cases, teething might also occur in conjunction with less common symptoms such as vomiting, mild fever, looser stools and diarrhea due to increased swallowed saliva, or even tooth grinding.

But what about head shaking? Could this be another symptom of teething?

Baby Head Shaking

Baby head shaking can be a fascinating spectacle.

Your little one might suddenly start shaking their head from side to side, leaving you wondering if this is usual behavior or a cause for concern.

The truth is, this head shaking can be both — a normal part of their development or a sign of an underlying issue.

    When trying to understand why your baby is shaking their head, it’s essential to consider the context.

    Are they doing it while playing, communicating, or soothing themselves? Or could it be a sign of discomfort, such as an ear infection or teething pain?

    Baby Head Shaking and Teething

    Some babies might resort to head shaking as a self-soothing mechanism during teething.

    The discomfort caused by the emerging teeth can make them feel anxious or overstimulated, and shaking their head from side to side may help them calm down and potentially even drift off to sleep.

    If your baby is shaking their head more frequently around the time you notice other teething symptoms like drooling or fussiness, it could indeed be another sign that their first tooth is on the way.

    Other Reasons for Baby Head Shaking

    While head shaking can be a symptom of teething, it’s not the only reason why babies exhibit this behavior.

    It’s essential to understand the other possible causes of head shaking to ensure your baby’s health and well-being.

    Here are some other reasons for baby head shaking behavior:

    Developing Motor Skills

    One of the primary reasons babies shake their heads is to gain control over their bodies.

    As they grow, their muscles start to develop, and they begin to discover their own bodies.

    Shaking their head from side to side is just another experiment in their long list of daily adventures.

    Self-Soothing or Falling Asleep

    Sometimes, babies might shake their heads to soothe themselves when they’re tired or on the brink of falling asleep.

    This rhythmic movement can help them relax and eventually drift off to dreamland.

    Dealing with Ear Infections

    If your baby has an ear infection, they might shake their head to alleviate the discomfort.

    Along with head shaking, other signs of an ear infection include fever, irritability, and tugging at the ear.

    If you suspect an ear infection, it’s best to consult a pediatrician promptly.

    During Breastfeeding

    Babies also shake their heads while nursing, particularly when they’re trying to latch on.

    This head movement can also be an expression of excitement as they anticipate their feeding time.

    Playing and Interaction

    As babies learn to interact with their environment, they may shake their heads during playtime.

    Over time, this behavior can become a part of their social interaction, serving as a response to questions or a way to communicate.

    Testing Their Movement Limits

    In their quest to explore their capabilities, babies often test the extent to which they can move their bodies.

    This exploration might involve head rocking or shaking, which, although might seem alarming, is perfectly normal.

    When Baby Head Shaking Could Be a Cause for Concern

    While most instances of baby head shaking are harmless and a part of normal development, there could be times when it might indicate a more significant problem.

    Neurological or Developmental Disorder

    Frequent head shaking, especially when accompanied by other atypical behaviors, could indicate a neurological or developmental issue.

    Conditions like epilepsy, autism, or other neurological disorders can sometimes manifest as rhythmic head shaking.

    Shudder Attacks

    Though rare, shuddering attacks can cause babies to shake or shiver.

    If these movements extend to the head, they could result in the baby shaking their head.

    Navigating Baby Teething and Sleep Issues

    Teething can sometimes disrupt your baby’s sleep patterns, making them more restless and causing them to wake up more frequently.

    The discomfort and pain can lead to sleepless nights for both you and your baby.

    To help your baby sleep better during this phase, you can try various teething remedies for babies.

    For instance, teething toys can provide relief by letting your baby chew on them.

    You could also gently massage your baby’s gums using a clean finger or a cold spoon to alleviate the discomfort.

    When to Seek Medical Advice

    It’s crucial to know when to seek medical advice for your baby’s head shaking.

    If your baby exhibits the following signs and symptoms along with continuous head shaking, it would be best to consult a doctor:

    • Does not interact much with caregivers
    • Exhibits abnormal eye movements or poor eye contact
    • Has injuries from head-banging
    • Shakes their head excessively when anxious
    • Shows a propensity to hurt themselves
    • Exhibits poor response to sounds
    • Continues this behavior even after two years of age

    Wrapping it Up

    As a parent, it’s natural to worry about every new behavior that your baby displays.

    However, remember that head shaking, whether due to teething or as a part of their development, is typically nothing to worry about.

    But, if your baby’s head shaking is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, or if you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, don’t hesitate to consult your pediatrician.

    When it comes to your baby’s health and well-being, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!


    • Cam Russo

      Cam is a blogger, author, and content strategist with a keen love for the written word. His journey with high-functioning autism has kindled a strong advocacy for autism awareness. Today, Cam dedicates his efforts to educating parents. He sees laughter as a game-changer in learning, and strives every day to make education a fun and enjoyable journey for all his readers.