Shaking/Tremors in Children
Berkeley Parents Network >
Shaking/Tremors in Children
My eight month old little baby girl has started to shake her head from
left to right quite violently. I am very worried about this. She is a
very, very sweet little baby, she is happy generally and doing all the
developmental things expected, but has started shaking her head. At
first I thought it may be that I was not giving her enough attention
all of a sudden (as I've been job hunting), then I thought is it
behavioural (as I have been wigged/stressed out and I had a heated
argument in her presence), then I thought is it something medical (she
has always been active and waved her arms and legs around alot since
she was born and she was also very active in the womb), and I am very
worried about it. I have seen messages on the internet stating ''my
baby has the same thing'' several times, but I saw only one message
stating that their baby ''grew out'' of it. Has anyone had this happen
to their baby and has an answer, some suggestions, or advice or
guidance? Thank you so much.
Mine did, and still does, the same thing. I've seen other babies
do it. She laughs when she shakes her head vigorously and we
actually taught her to shake her head on command. I don't think
it's a big issue. She's one now and isn't doing it as often as
before. I do notice that she tends to do it more when it's late
in the day and she's starting to get tired.
My son shook his head like that when he was about the same age.
It freaked me out. I think he was just learning that new
feeling and controll of his body. He outgrew it. I don't think
it lasted too long...a few months? He's 17 now, a senior in
high school, smart, social, a great kid and applying to
colleges. I'd say don't worry.
proud mom of former head shaker
My son has been doing this too, starting about the same age as
your child; he's 12 months now. Don't stress it. I think it's
just fun for them. My son also likes to make himself dizzy by
turning around and around in circles, which I think is the same
sort of behavior. Not my idea of fun, but hey, I'm not a baby
Don't stress, Mom
Hi! I just wanted to tell you that my son did the same thing at 6 months. I took
to his pediatrician's office and talked to a doctor (not his usual doctor) who had a
child of the same age. He was very reassuring and examined my son thoroughly.
His take? Babies like new sensations that they can control, so my son basically
enjoyed the feeling of vigorously shaking his head. He also enjoyed my reaction!
The doctor recommended that I not react at all to the head shaking and soon my
son had moved on to another new behavior (I forgot what that was. He's a healthy
four and a half year old now!). Definitely check with your pediatrician if you are
worried, but if your daughter is healthy baby, it doesn't sound like you need to be
My 6-month old has recently started doing the same thing. She
mostly does it when she's tired. I've checked with two doctors
and both see no reason to worry. It can be a self-soothing
movement or just a new movement they're practicing that feels
good. I agree with you that it can look alarming but I'm
certain it will pass and that there's no reason to worry (of
course, given that she's healthy and alert otherwise).
Our 6 month old son seems normal in every aspect (smiling,
babbling, making good eye contact, etc.) but has really jerky
arm movements and is always kicking or moving whenever he is
lying down. Standing up he is always constantly moving around
as well. His movements are such that we have to swaddle him at
night to contain him or else he will constantly wake himself
up. I don't know whether this is normal or not? When should he
be growing out of these jerky movements? Nothing seems to be
repetitive-he's not rocking or flapping his arms in the same
pattern all the time.
i was worried about the same thing in my son. he is now 21 months and
well-coordinated, active, and as intelligent as a tot should be. i was
sure he had some mental problem! he couldn't find his hand to suck on at
night (and his 3 month old sister could find her hand since 1 month). oh
yeah, and he couldn't grab at toys the same way some kids seemed to,
either. don't worry! i am sure your son is just doing things at his own
I know it's a weird heading, but I didn't know what else to
call it. Sometimes when my 7 month old daugther is lying down,
especially if she's about to go to sleep, she'll turn her head
left and right really fast. It's almost as if she's trying to
itch the back of her head, which does sometimes get irritated
at her bald spot. At other times, it looks involuntary, as if
she can't help it. Whatever it is, I've never seen another baby
do it before. Can you shed any light on this?
Our son quite often rubbed his head back and forth (maybe a second or
two on each side for a number of repetitions?) before falling asleep as
an infant. He never did this while awake, and he's basically stopped
now that he's a year old. It always seemed like something that that he
had discovered that helped him to zone out and relax into sleep.
intermittently from 7-9 months of age our son would rapidly shake his
head back and forth both sitting and when laying down. It seemed
entirely involuntary and was a little frightening, but it always
happened when he was tired and somehow it struck me as familiar. After
wracking my brain for days, I remembered that he used to thrash his head
back and forth like that when he was swaddled (since we swaddled him so
tightly that his head was the only thing he could move!) I think he
simply associated the head shaking with falling asleep. He outgrew it
by the time he was 10 months of age.
I can't offer you any particulalry enlightening reason for the head
thrashing, but I can tell you that my son does it too. It's barely a
''thrash'', more like a vigorous shaking the back and forth like he's
saying ''no''- so I haven't been worried that he could hurt
himself- don't know if that's the case with you too. He's a year and a
half and has been doing it for a while- probably at least a year. I've
only seen him do it before he falls asleep, and only occasionally. I
just take it as a sign that his body's trying to put him to sleep, which
is helpful to know, though kind of funny to watch. Interesting to know
that some other kids do it too.
I meant to respond to this the first time around. My now 13 month old
has done exactly the same thing since around 5 months. Only in the crib
and only when he's very tired. I think he wants to stay awake and play
but he's really tired so he literally tries to fight sleep off by
shaking it out of his head. It never works, of course, but I applaud his
My baby (now 11 months old) had done it since he was really young. I
believe that it is a way for him to rock himself to sleep. My husband
told me that he rocked himself to sleep everynight until he was a
teenager, so I just assumed that my son's behavior is related. When I
see him do that, I know he is ready to go to sleep.
mom of other baby with head thrashing
My 8 mo. old baby girl developed a sideways head jerk about 2
weeks ago. It's totally involuntary, to either side, but more
often to the right, and happens several times a day. Sometimes
she jerks her head once and sometimes 2 or 3 times. We thought
it was happening more when she seemed tired, but today it
happened after a nap, over and over for a good few minutes. She
is otherwise healthy, happy and developing ahead of her age
motorically. She has seemed more irritable or frustrated
lately, but nothing out of the ordinary for a developing baby.
Our pediatrician thinks it is some kind of a head tick (what is
that?) and has referred us to neurology at Children's
Hospital. We are pretty scared. She is our third and I have
never seen a baby move this way before. Does anyone have any
experience or advice with this sort of thing?
Thank you very much.
I'm just writing to let you know that I've seen it. I'm sorry I
do not have a better response. But yes, I've seen ticks of the
head. It's completely involuntary and the person often forgets
that their head ticks at that moment - unless of course -
they're teased as a child and/or experience confused looks from
Please do what you are doing - looking into it with specialists -
go as far as you can to see how it can be corrected.
Good luck and my heart goes out to you and baby.
I too was concerned when my baby would jerk her head from side
to side! We were especially concerned because we were in a car
accident when our baby was 4 days old. I spoke to many
girlfriends and my doctor and found out that it is VERY common
for babies to shake their heads back and forth! I was so
surprised by how many of my girlfriends' babies did the same
thing. The only thing is that no one knew why (and neither did
my doctor) but all of them seemed to grow out of it. My
daughter is now 9 months old and very rarely shakes her head -
my girlfriend's baby did it until a year old. Be patient - it's
one of those normal wierd things that babies do. Our doctor
said he would send us to a nuerologist if we wanted, but he
honestly said the testing and medication would probably be worse
for the baby than the head shaking itself. Feel free to email
me if you want to talk!
This one just popped out at me. My brother has Tourette's
Syndrome which causes involuntary ticks. It can be either mild
or severe and can vary with eye blinking ticks, head
ticks, or even vocally. It's also associated with Obsesive
Compulsive Disorder. I'm not sure if this could be the cause of
your daugther's ticks but thought you might want to ask the
neurologist if this could be a possiblity.
I know with my parents, it took them until my brother was around
10 years old to find out what was wrong. Tourette's was still
pretty new to doctors. My brother now takes medication daily
(Haldol) which has helped him and the ticks are not noticeable.
And, of course, I may be off on this, but thought it would be
good to know of this.
I wish the best for your daughter! Good Luck!
We also experienced this when our son was about six months old.
Our pediatrician also sent us to Children's to see a
neurologist. We agonized for weeks over this until we got in to
see her. Thank god the neurologist said he was fine - just a
sensation he enjoyed feeling. She then commented how nice it
was to see a healthy child. So hang in there hopefully you will
have a similar result! When we told our pediatrician the
results she smiled and said I thought so - just wanted to be
I am concerned that your baby could be having seizures called infantile
spasms. It is a good thing that you have an appointment with a neurologist
but unless it is within a few days I would try to get help sooner. Have you
vidio taped these head jerks?
Infantile spasms are unfortunately not understood or recognized by
pediatricians as well as they should be. My son began having them at 5mos old
and they became more and more frequent until we brought him to the emergency
room and got a speedy diagnosis. They are usually treatable and depending on
the diagnosis there are some medications better than others.
Your baby's movements do not sound classic because she is moving her head from
side to side. However, I have heard of many different variations and thought
I would discribe them to you: Infantile spasms come in a series usually and
they often make the baby upset, or cause a happy baby to become an irritable
one. They usually cause the baby to flex their head forward or back, often
with arm movements. They often happen when they are tired or upon waking (as
do many seizures types). Infantile spasms are very serious and left untreated
can cause brain damage.
I don't mean to alarm you, and I hope this is not what she is experiencing. I
just thought because of the seriousness of infantile spasms I would let you
know about them so that you can get help immediately if you think this is what
she might have.
Infantile spasms may be caused by many disorders, including the one my son
has. If your daughter has any white spots on her body she may have what my
son does. You may contact me if you would like to learn more.
my nine month old girl has this habit of shuddering her upper body, in much
of the same way an older child or adult would do when eating something
extremely tart; however, there doesn't seem to be any obvious stimuli causing
this. there's no pattern as to when she does it--at the times it occurs, she's not
eating anything, she's not cold, she's not expressing glee or anxiety. her
pediatrician says she could be pleasuring herself, but i find this unlikely and
his answer unacceptable. i'm a little concerned that this is an early sign of
something neurologically-related that will surface when she's older. if your
baby/child has this same behavior, please reassure me that it's completely
The movement you describe sounds very similar to something our daughter
was doing a lot when she was 10 and 11 months old. We were very worried
about it and searched all over for information, without finding much
that was helpful. Our pediatrician was fairly reassuring--we weren't
able to get her to do it in his office (even though at that time it
seemed that she was doing it many times a day), but from our description
he was confident that it wasn't anything seizure-related. When we
weren't completely panicked about neurological disorders, back then we
sometimes thought it was connected with fatigue or over-excitement. It
did seem to happen less when she was well rested.
We never found a medical explanation, but the behavior gradually tapered
off so that it had stopped almost completely by the time she turned one.
Now, at fifteen months, it suddenly seems clear that it's voluntary--she
does it now and then when she's very happy or when she's trying to get
her father's attention (he's the exciting one). This will sound really
bizarre, but yesterday she did it several times in a row after she heard
me telling him that she had learned to ''shake her head'' to say
no--apparently she picked up on the word ''shake'' and wanted to show me
she understood it! Since our short phase of panicking about this in the
fall I've also seen another baby the same age do exactly the same thing
and heard a couple of people talk about it as connected with fatigue.
My daughter did the same thing when she about 9-10 months. I couldn't
find any situational consistency as to what prompted her to do this. I,
too, was concerned about some neurological abnormality, but in hindsight
it was just a phase which passed quite quickly.
It certainly didn't look to me like she was pleasuring herself. At the
time she was teething, so I figured that it
might have been due to her biting her sensitive gums. Not
sure whether that had anything to do with it, but I haven't seen her do
it at all since about her first birthday.
Our son did that for months around that age. It looked as if he was
''getting the chills'' or ''sucking on a lemon'' or something like that.
I worried too, but in the bottom of my heart knew he was ok. Now he is
26 months and doesn't do that anymore (except with his bowel movements)
and nothing is neurologically wrong with him.
My baby did this all the time at that age, and with alarming frequency,
and it scared the crap out of me as well. The doctor shrugged her
shoulders and gave it a medical name, which basically translated as
''baby shudders involuntarily.'' A nanny told me, with great certainty
(and incorrectly) that she was peeing when she shuddered (she shuddered
when naked with no pee). I later realized that I sometimes get this
little ''shudder'' which I call ''chills'' periodically, and my dad told
me he does that. Of course, I've never seen my dad do that and I don't
do it as often or as dramatically as the baby, and of course as a
first-time parent I was convinced that something horrible was wrong.
however, I waited it out, and my daughter (now nearly 3) has NO
neurological problems, and she doesn't shudder as often, and I don't
worry about it anymore. I would say that if she doesn't ''zone out''
(like a seizure, as if her brain is not functioning during it), then no
worries. Babies are just different, and us moms are looking at every
little detail, and we worry if our kid is different than other kids.
My 5 month old baby has had a similar head shaking thing. I would
describe it as a head tremor, an involuntary rapid vibrating or shaking
of his head and shoulders, that was almost like a seizure. It has
happened twice, both times while he was nursing, and lasted no more than
a minute. I asked our pediatrician about it and he said he's heard about
this a lot with babies this age. He attributed it to an immature
nervous system. He explained that it's related to the spontaneous limb
jerking that newborns do. He said that my son no longer has the
involuntary arm and leg jerking, but now when his muscles twitch, they
just keep twitching over and over as his nervous system hasn't learned
to control the twitching yet. He said the key thing to observe was my
son's mood after the episode. He's always fine, as if nothing happened,
which my doctor indicates is a good sign. A bad sign would be if the
baby seemed exhausted or stopped nursing or something else that
indicated that what he went through was traumatic...apparently that is
more symptomatic of an actual seizure. Don't know if I explained this
well, but what the doctor said completely reassured me.
My son, now 2, had what was diagnosed as ''infant shuddering syndrome'',
or something like that. I got the feeling that it was a non-technical
term used by his neurologists (he ended up seeing two). Let me start by
saying it was benign and he, by 12 months, he had outgrown it. We were
been told by the neurologists that the children they have seen with this
do outgrow it by 18 months with no side effects.
Here's the background. When he was 5 months old, we realized that he was
making involuntary (we think) movements where he flapped his arms
outward, sort of like a moro response. We ended up, over time, having
him looked at by two pediatric neurologists. He also initially had an
2-3 hour EEG and a urine test to rule out a metabolic disorder. The EEG
was normal and we were ready to call it a day, but we had a false
positive on the metabolic test. He ultimately saw the second neurologist
and had subsequest tests b/c of the urine test, but suffice it to say
that after 7 months of testing, all came up normal. And he's not shown
any signs of shuddering since he was a year old. That said, I do think
it would be wise to get a neurologist's opinion. They see a lot of these
things, and they can rule out anything serious. I hope this is
My daughter shuddered often when she first tasted food she liked and
when she peed. She did this from babyhood into lower elementary school.
It did seem to be a pleasure response. I'd say your girl is feeling good
for whatever reason -- nothing wrong with that!
My 18 month old son has always shuddered his upper body whenever he
needs to pee! Check her diaper soon after she does this and see if
that's the cause.
My son is now 27 months old, but sometime when he was between 1 year and
18 months, I noticed that he often shuddered for no apparent reason. I
brought it up with our pediatrician, who said it was probably because he
was peeing. I haven't noticed him shuddering in quite awhile- I don't
know if it is because he stopped doing it or I stopped noticing because
I am no longer worried.
My six month old has been ''shuddering'' (what looks like a chill) for a
couple months. Our pediatrician has assured us it is normal and there's
nothing to worry about.
My daughter did exactly the same thing when she was that age. I was also
concerned. I mentioned it to my mother who told me that I did that when
I was a child, too. She told me that I used to do that after I peed. I
checked and it appeared that my daughter also would shudder after she
peed. Although I wouldn't classify it as pleasuring herself, it is
possible that the two are related if peeing somehow stimulates her
sexual organs. Just a possibility.
My baby did the exact same thing. I worried, asked, was told to just
keep an eye on it. She's 3 now, and she stopped doing it sometime in the
last year or so.
I don't mean to trivialize your concern so forgive me if this response
if off the mark, but the first thing I thought of when I read your post
is that both of my kids make a slight shudder movement when they have to
go pee. Could this be it? My older daughter has done this ever since
she was in diapers and now, when she is almost five, I watch for the
shudder and know when I see it that it's time to find a bathroom.
My daughter did exactly the same thing when she was about one.
Eventually she stopped, but I don't remember when. Now she's three and
super-fabulous in every way. I hope that reassures you that there is
nothing wrong with your baby.
I have no idea if this is true or not, but when my son was 5 months and
shuddered at my mothers group (he still does now and then, not with much
frequency), someone called it the ''pee shivers''. Other women seemed to
have heard of this - apparently babies shiver when they've just peed?
Who knows - but it could be a simple and harmless answer if it's true,
and may be worth asking around about.
A friend's baby had similar symptoms. She went so far as to have a full
neuro exam... and they finally figured out that she was constipated.
Maybe some mineral oil or other treatment...? I'd be freaked out, too. I
hope you get it sorted out soon.
My older daughter did this a lot when she was a baby. It turned out she
would do it right before she would pee. I remember being quite
concerned about her shuddering until I figured it out. She eventually
stopped doing it, I don't even remember when. Sometime before she was
2. She's now almost six and is perfectly fine.
I know that some people have a brief ''1-2 second'' shudder when the
have to pee or are beginning to pee. Could she be urinating during
these episodes? My son has done this a few times.
Could your baby be peeing? My brother and I both get ''Pee shivers''
when we pee sometimes. I've done it since I was a kid.
When I had kids I started noticing my child would do this kind of
shiver sometimes. Once I saw her doing it when she was crawling and
immediately felt her diaper...it was warm with fresh pee! Now that she
is 4, I've seen her get pee shivers when she is going in the potty. And
I occasionally see my new baby shiver too.
Our nine month old son recently started to shake his head from
side to side seemingly involuntarily - it resembles the head
shaking (or tremors) of someone with Parkinson's disease. He
does this about 10-15 times per day for a few seconds each time
and it doesn't seem to be associated with a particular mood or
activity. He seems otherwise happy and normal. This started a
couple of days after receiving his vaccinations and flu shot.
Does anyone have any experience with this? Should we worry?
We went through this with our daughter and know that it can be
very scary. We were advised to get her an EEG, which we did.
Nothing came up in the tests, which was a relief, so the doctors
chalked it up to an ''immature nervous system.'' Whatever it was,
they told us that we should keep an eye on it and go for another
test if the tremors didn't stop by 12 or 18 months (I'm sorry --
it was a while ago and I can't remember which). They stopped, so
everything was okay. I would advise that you see your
pediatrician to find out what s/he thinks you should do.
Dear Mom or Dad,
Not to scare you, but please, talk to your pediatrican immediately, as these
could be small seizure. Don't mess around with home remedies. Hopefully the
pediatrician can rule out seizures right away, but if not you have to act on this
immediately. Your son may have to see a specialist and have an EEG. Look up petit
mal sesuires on the web. While he is shaking his head, check what his eyes are
doing. If he is having seizures, they can cause brain damage if left untreated.
Again, I don't want to scare you, but please see a doctor. It probably has nothing to
do with the flu shot.
My neice has epilepsy, and had petit mal seizures (many a day) since she was
tiny. Hopefully, your son has something else, but really push to find out. I would
be happy to talk with you more.
Well, you should ask your pediatrician. But fyi, our baby does
that too. Not 15 times a day, but several times (less now that
she's a toddler). As far as I could tell, it was linked to
elimination: she always did it when she pooped and sometimes
when she peed.
don't worry! my son went through the exact same thing at the
same age. it totally freaked me out, but we finally realized
that he does it when he's tired and he shakes his head to try
to keep awake. try getting him to sleep sooner for naps. and,
it goes away in a month or two.
my 2 year old boy does this thing with his head when he sits
down to be read to or when he sits down to watch a video.
He sways his head from left to right a few times. Like he is
settling in. Sometimes he seems to like to really shake his
head, in a different way, more because it makes his world
look funny. He is totally developmentally on target, though
he is a early walker/late talker.
My husband and I just sort of look at each other with
concern when he does this. My boy seems fine, but this
thing just sort of freaks me out.
just wondering if anybody out there has seen these sorts of
strange baby things.
My 20-month-old son does something that I think is very similar to the
second behavior you describe (shaking his head to make his world look
funny). He does it when he's sitting in his high chair eating, and he's
getting close to done with his meal, so he's a little bored. He shakes his
head side to side really emphatically, sometimes tilting his head back,
and grinning from ear to hear -- then he looks at me to see how I'll
respond. He started doing this at about 14 months old -- used to do it at
every meal, often several times. Now he does it much less, but still
seems to enjoy it. I don't think it's a big deal, just one of those funny
things kids do.
Hi. I was wondering if anyone had information or experience with
hand tremors in children. My 6 year old has had them for years.
His physician says that they are no big deal and that he will
probably outgrow them. His preschool teacher thought that it
happened when he tried to hard. Time has passed and it has not
changed. Now it is diffucult for him to write without the
drawing shakey lines and to color. He is embarassed by his
writing and tries to avoid it.
Obviously I am very concerned and want to seek further
evaluation. I will be contacting his physician and requesting a
refferal to a Neurologist, if for nothing else a baseline. He
is a very happy athletic guy. But his fine motor skills are
Worried and want to be proactive.
I have a hand tremor and it was first given a diagnostic title by my
pediatrician when I was 12, but I am sure that I had it before that.
Mine has the fancy title ''Benign Essential Tremor of the Hand'' which
means it's pretty much a big fat nuisance and nothing more except when I
need to do something really anxiety provoking, like taking a final, and
then it can get out of hand (so to speak).
I have had medication, Inderal, which is a beta blocker, for my tremor,
since I was 12, and I have gone through periods of taking it and periods
of not, including a 12 year hiatus while I was pregnant and
breastfeeding my two boys. In my experience, my tremor bothers other
people more than it does me.
I would go ahead and have a neurologist check it out to make sure it's
not something else, but I have met a number of other people who have the
same condition I do. It's weird but unrelated to anything like
Parkinson's, so nothing to really worry about.
this page was last updated: Jan 27, 2009
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network