Why Do Babies Hump Things? Is It Normal?

Why Do Babies Hump Things? Is It Normal?

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Babies hump things as a way to soothe themselves. Occasionally this may be to help them fall asleep, because they are bored, or they are hungry.

Little ones may discover that this activity gets them attention. They may do it to get more attention when their needs are not being met. There are quite a few reasons that babies hump things.

It’s important to understand why they do it, and how to control this behavior to avoid embarrassment. However, you also need to remember that it is completely normal. 

Is It Normal For Babies To Hump Things?

Yes, this is completely normal. Children find that this feels good, and then they continue to do it.

Self-soothing, being unable to calm themselves, as a means to help themselves fall asleep, as an attention-seeking behavior and other reasons are very common.

Remember that no matter how embarrassed you might feel, it’s normal. It can also help to remember that you’re not alone. A quick browse through online forums can show you that there are plenty of mothers that have been in your shoes. 

How To Figure Out Why My Baby Humps Things (And What To Do About It)

It can be alarming to suddenly see your little one humping things. You might wonder if they have been sexually abused or walked in on someone doing something.

However, this is perfectly normal behavior. If your little one doesn’t show any other signs of sexual abuse, it’s unlikely this is the cause of them humping things. 

Pay Attention To When They Do It (Such As Before Naptime)

toddler sleeping

Your little one might be able to tell you why they are humping things by when they are humping things. For example, if you notice this behavior right before bedtime when they are tired, it’s a self-soothing behavior because they are tired.

Children that have a self-soothing behavior usually revert back to the same one repeatedly, so if you notice that this is happening before bedtime when it’s time for them to eat, etc. this can tell you why your little one is humping things. 

It can be hard to figure this out if it seems like your little one is humping things around the clock. It could be that one hour they are hungry.

Then they are tired. After that, they might just feel anxious. Writing it down can help you identify what triggers the behavior, which might help you stop the behavior if you would like to. 

How To Stop Your Baby From Humping Things If They’re Using It To Self-Soothe

Even if your little one is using humping things as a self-soothing behavior, no parent can hide their embarrassment when a toddler randomly starts humping a chair while the family is out to eat.

Sometimes, this behavior is accepted, and sometimes it is not. First, remember that it’s normal and your child doesn’t know what they are doing. Then, if you’d still like the behavior to stop, consider these methods. 

Humping As A Self-Soothing Behavior Usually Stops On Its Own

It can embarrassing and alarming, but babies have no idea what they are doing. They know when they rub their genitals on something it feels good, and it’s soothing.

Nothing more. This is only sexual if you make it sexual. Knowing that can help you feel a little less embarrassed if this behavior happens. If your little one does this to self-soothe, waiting it out is always an option.

Just like some parents wait until their children are older when they suck on their thumb, and they generally stop on their own. Your baby will probably outgrow this behavior in the next year or so.

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Solve The Issue That Is Making Them Self-Soothe

For example, if your little one does this when they are hungry, start feeding them. If they are on a schedule, try to up their feeding time a little bit so that they don’t have to wait.

Babies that do this when they are tired sometimes stop once they are laid down in their bed. If your little one is humping things because they are upset, cuddle with them.

This can help them learn other self-soothing behaviors, such as cuddling, when something is wrong with them. 

Distract Them To Prevent Humping Things

Instead of focusing on teaching a baby not to do something, many parents opt to distract their little ones. When you see your baby humping things, shake their favorite rattle, or ask them if they want to watch their favorite movie.

This isn’t rewarding the behavior. Instead, it’s known as distracting. Your little one will become focused on the new task at hand, and then they will stop humping. 

In order for this to be effective at stopping the behavior, it’s important to be consistent. You’ll need to distract your little one every time that they do this to make it effective. It can take a few weeks to see a noticeable difference. 

Remove The Object They Are Humping

If your little one is humping their bed this might not be an option. However, some children only hump their favorite stuffed animal or stuffed animals in general.

If this is the case, simply removing the object can be enough to help curb the behavior. Sometimes, however, your little one will simply find something else. You won’t know whether this will work or not with your baby until you try it. 

Who Is Around When They Do It And What Is Their Reaction?

Children of every age love attention. This might have started out as a self-soothing behavior, but if someone, in particular, made a big deal out of it, it may have turned into an attention-seeking behavior.

Here’s how you tell if your child is using this as attention-seeking behavior. 

First, ignore them. Then, see what they do next. Children that are using things as attention-seeking behaviors will usually ramp things up if you ignore them.

You might have to ignore them a couple of times to see this. For example, your little one may bring their love over next to you and start humping it.

They might do this a little bit harder or scream in an effort to get you to look at them. Children that are doing this for a self-soothing behavior will not care if you’re watching or reacting.

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How To Stop Attention Seeking Behavior In Children

Attention seeking behavior is something that children do for attention. Before you decide that your child wants too much attention, remember that children can never have too much attention or love.

You do not want to transform them into a child that never wants attention, as these children tend to be withdrawn. Instead, you want to stop the attention-seeking behavior.

In this case, it’s your toddler humping things. If you’ve already discovered that your child is doing this for attention, these methods will work to change their behavior. 

Consistency Is Key

Before you implement a plan of action, it’s important to remember that being consistent is key. Nothing will be effective if you do not stick with it. Make sure that you’re ready to commit to your plan of action. 

Ignore The Behavior

You are probably busy and do not have time for that silliness anyway! Tell yourself this when your child starts humping things. It makes it a little bit easier to ignore the behavior. 

Now, if your little one is doing this for attention, they might ramp things up a bit at first. If you’re in the same room, simply pretend that they are not doing it. Watch television. Play on your phone. Do not comment on the behavior or look at them. 

Leaving the room is another option. This is a common solution for attention-seeking behaviors because your child will stop fighting to get you to look up from your phone.

They may stop instantly once you leave the room. This also shows them that you will not pay attention to that behavior. 

Plenty Of Positive Attention

This is where a lot of parents mess up. (Myself included at one point in time.) When you ignore the behavior, it can help prevent the behavior.

However, your child’s attention needs are still not being met. You need to make a considerable effort to pay attention to your little ones more or spend more time with them. 

Some children seem to have attention needs that are never met. There are little things you can do throughout the day to let them know that they are loved, and pay attention to them:

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  • Praise good behavior (thank you for picking up your toy!)
  • Wave when you walk past them playing in another room
  • Cuddle while watching a movie
  • Take them with you to run errands
  • Schedule time together every night

It can be hard to fit a fun time in with everything else that we have to do as parents. If you’re doing online school, cooking three times a day, cleaning the house, and working full time, it can seem impossible.

Remember that a few minutes is better than nothing. You can also seize opportunities when you’re already with your little one. For example, sing them a song while you wash their hair. Little moments like this can make a big difference. 

Encourage Positive Time With Adults Whose Attention They Want

Perhaps your little one isn’t trying to get your attention. This could be the case if you only see them humping things when grandma is around. In this situation, continue to ignore the behavior.

In addition to that, encourage plenty of positive attention from grandma. As soon as she walks through the door, ask her if she’ll play with the baby for a moment while you fold a load of laundry.

Encourage a connection by showing her your baby’s favorite toy, and how he likes to play with it. 

Is Your Baby Humping Things Because They Saw Something Inappropriate?

This one isn’t as common, but it does need to be addressed. If your little one walked in on nasty time with your partner, and it took you a little bit to notice that the door was open and they were watching, this could be the culprit. 

When this behavior started will tell you if this is the problem. For example, your baby did not hump things. Then, they saw you and your partner.

After this, they started humping things, or people. In this situation, this is where the behavior came from. If this is what’s happening, try not to be embarrassed or feel bad.

There are ways to address this behavior and ways to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. 

Don’t Encourage The Behavior

You can try the above methods to make sure you’re not encouraging your baby to hump things. For example, ignore them or distract them.

These methods don’t punish children, but also don’t encourage behavior that you do not want them to do.

Do not pay a lot of attention to it to make sure that your little one does not begin to use this as a way to get your attention. The behavior will stop eventually. 

Prevent Future Accidental Walk-Ins

Little ones are too young to remember to knock on the door, but you can start teaching them. Simply remind them when they walk in a room with the door closed without knocking to knock first. This will help when they are older. 

In the meantime, pick up a lock for your bedroom. A simple hook-and-eye lock is easy to install, even if you’re not experienced in DIY projects.

These are also really cheap. Make sure to lock the door before you and your partner do anything that is not toddler appropriate to prevent this from happening again. 

In Conclusion

It’s normal for babies to hump things. If you would like the behavior to stop sooner rather than letting it run its course, try discouraging it with distractions and teaching self-soothing methods. Typically, babies will quit humping things on their own with time.

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!