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Kids Health QA: Rocking Toddlers

Q. My toddler now loves to rock back and forth, but is this normal?

Rocking is very common in toddlers. Often children do it to soothe themselves when they're tired or upset; some do it when they're bored.

Keep an eye on it, though, as repetitive behaviors like rocking back and forth can sometimes be seen in autism. Some other signs of autism include:

  • Not responding to her name when called. (This can also be a sign of hearing loss, another problem that can cause children to start self-soothing behaviors like rocking.)
  • Not looking or showing interest when you point something out to her, and not pointing things out to you
  • Not making eye contact
  • Not babbling back and forth with you
  • Preferring not to be cuddled, or to be left alone.

If any of these describe your child, she should be evaluated by someone who specializes in child development; your doctor can help arrange this.

Otherwise, don't worry about the rocking. The next time your toddler does it, see if she wants to snuggle with you instead—a great soother for both of you!