Babies Rocking Back And Forth – What Does It Mean?

When you have a baby for the first time, every unique action they do is both a surprise and a mystery. You may wonder if a certain thing is a cause for alarm, if it is a cause for concern, or if it is normal. One of the biggest instances of this is when babies are starting to rock to and fro; this may not be new to some parents. Seeing babies making an unusual movement, will have you questioning why they’re doing that, say, for example, head banging. You may wonder if the baby is doing something common or something unusual that you may want to see a professional about.

Is it something you need to be concerned about? Or is it nothing to worry about? Let’s look at a few reasons why this happens. 


Babies Rock Back and Forth

Possible Causes


Playful Baby

When your little one does rock back & forth or tries to get their head rolling on the bed, they may feel like playing. They may feel very energetic and try to get your attention in other ways. In this case, maybe you should play with them a little bit & make sure that they’re having a good time.

This behavior should go away with time. With that said, giving your baby attention & affection whenever you can is important for their development.


They’re Learning To Crawl

If your child is rocking to and fro, they may be trying to build up their leg strength to crawl. Children rock; it gives them a sense of comfort. A baby starts to crawl around 6-10 months, so if your baby’s age is in that ballpark, they may be training themselves to crawl. They’re learning to move into a crawling motion through their rocking behavior, thus, they are maybe playing with all their motor skills to do so. 

If you want to help your baby, put a toy near the baby; use that as an encouragement to train your child. It can be an incentive for them to learn to crawl so they can grab that toy. By learning early, they can be more independent & ready to take on the world.


A cute baby girl trying to crawl to enhance her leg strength. You may see your little one do the rocking back and forth as a result

Baby Reacting To You Or Someone

If you’re there promoting movement, your baby may be reacting to that. If your baby is rocking, look around & see if any external factors contribute to that. They may see something that is bothering them. If you get help, your baby will stop rocking and be calm. Then, you may be able to eliminate the cause & calm them down.

Are they Trying To Sleep?

Sometimes, babies rock back & forth, particularly around seven months, in an attempt to fall asleep. We all know that toddlers like to rock a bye or sleep in a rock and play, as they can rock themselves to lull them to sleep. This may be something a new mom or dad shouldn’t care about unless they’re over two. If they’re too old & doing it, this may be a sign of a disorder or your child may be having some sleep problems. In case you’re not sure, it’s worth it to see your child’s pediatrician to rule out sleep disorders, developmental disorders, as well as rhythmic movement disorders as well.

We all know that babies like to rock a bye, and they can rock themselves to lull them to sleep.


Some toddlers rock forwards then backwards, then do it repetitively. It’s almost like they’re in a trance in rocking motion – they don’t like doing it. This may be a sign of autism. Okay, it’s not a sure sign of autism, but it’s something you may want to talk to a doctor about if you want to rule it out. Repetitive movement with no goal in mind is a sign of autism. Thus, by treating it early, your child can have a better chance of functioning as high as possible.

Babies Banging Head On The Wall

If you see them rocking, or maybe they’re banging their head on the wall; this could be a sign of another developmental disorder. This especially applies if the baby is doing it during the daytime. It may be worth it to see a doctor about this situation. Too much headbanging can hurt the baby & possibly cause something worse down the line. Again, this is when you should consider putting them in a Rock N Play sleeper so that the child’s sleep will be more comfortable.

They May Be Upset 

Sometimes, the explanation is simple. They’re upset. Instead of crying, most children rock back & forth in an attempt to relieve their emotions. In a case like this, you may want to see what’s up. There may be something around them upsetting them, they may be hungry, or sick. If you’re unsure, talk to a doctor & see if there’s any problem.

Bedtime Babies Rocking To And Fro

Sometimes, you may notice your baby rocking back & forth in their crib. If so, they may hit their head on something. Make sure the crib is not near the wall. Make sure there are no hazards that could hurt your kid. Let them rock in peace; if they keep doing it, it may be time to seek a doctor.

Unsure? Seek Help 

Many times, your baby rocking back & forth is nothing to be worried about, and it’s a common sign of a growing baby. However, there are some cases where you may be worried, and reasonably so. If you suspect the reason is something bigger, perhaps it’s time to talk to a doctor and see what the problem is.

If it’s a problem, your doctor will treat your kid and allow them to live a better life.


a baby being checked up

Babies Rocking Back and Forth


In many cases, the baby rocking back & forth is nothing you should worry about. But if you’re unsure, it won’t hurt to seek a doctor. 

As your baby grows, they will learn to express themselves in many ways, so encourage them to do so. This will prevent emotional problems in the future too. Don’t discourage rocking especially if it’s harmless. 


Infants Rocking Back & Forth



Why does my baby keep rocking?

Rocking is normal for many children and infants. Toddlers do this playfully & may make eye contact with you to get your attention. However, it can also be a sign of a developmental disorder. Pay attention to how they’re rocking & their general behavior. If they don’t seem engaged & playful, you may take a video and consult with your pediatrician.

What does rocking back & forth mean?

Infants rocking back & forth can mean several things. They may want to seek your attention or try to learn how to crawl. Your baby may also be too tired and is trying to sleep, or they’re bored, and nothing is stimulating them. It can also be a sign of a developmental disorder.

What is body rocking?

Body rocking is when an individual moves their body, rhythmically swaying back & forth. Infants may do this while they’re in a sitting position or quadruped position.

Is rocking back & forth a sign of autism in infants?

Rocking side to side or forward then backward can be a sign of autism spectrum disorder. Pay attention to your child’s behavior. Are they rocking back & forth playfully, or does it seem more mechanical or trance-like? Also, check if they don’t seem happy or engaged while they are moving. Some experts believe that this behavior tends to soothe children who have autism.

Is rocking a sign of autism?

As previously mentioned, it may be a sign of autism spectrum disorder. Look out for your child’s general behavior & how they specifically rock back and forth. You may consult with a doctor if you are unsure.

What mental illness causes rocking?

Rocking may be a sign and is common among people with an autism spectrum disorder. Rocking is a repetitive behavior that also occurs in individuals with mental retardation & pervasive developmental disorder, among others.

Is rocking a sign of ADHD?

Cot rocking in babies & toddlers may be a sign of ADHD. While rocking is normal for babies, ADHD symptoms may appear more exaggerated or trance-like. Pay close attention to how they rock their bodies & check if they seem engaged and playful.

What are the early signs of autism?

Signs of autism spectrum disorder may appear during your child’s early years. They may rock back and forth & prefer routines and order. Other symptoms are no social smiling and one-word communication around six months, no babbling and other gestures by 12 months, poor eye contact, and no interest or response to sounds, toys, & other objects.  Early assessment of your doctor is necessary for proper intervention and success.

Why do infants shake their heads back and forth?

Babies start to develop their motor skills during the first few weeks. This movement signifies they may be imitating the people around them to gain control of their bodies. They may also shake their heads when trying to latch on during feeding. Likewise, it can be a sign of tiredness, and they are trying to soothe themselves. If fever or cold accompanies the shaking, or it seems trance-like, you may want to consult with your pediatrician about an ear infection or autism spectrum disorder.

Does my baby have autism?

Your child may show signs of autism spectrum disorder early on. Look out for behavioral, communication, and social differences. These may include a lack of social smiling, eye contact, response, and social babbling. Other signs include repetitive behavior like rocking, flapping of their hands, and swaying. It is best to take action and consult your pediatrician to be sure.


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Infants Rocking Back & Forth Other Resources





Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by Nisa Jabajab

DISCLAIMER (IMPORTANT): This information (including all text, images, audio, or other formats on is not intended to be a substitute for informed professional advice, diagnosis, endorsement or treatment. You should not take any action or avoid taking action without consulting a qualified professional.   Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about medical conditions. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here a

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