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Caught Your Babies Humping? Here’s Why.

Parents and those who work in childcare centers may occasionally see babies humping objects. Though this can be a bit startling, there is an explanation for their behavior.

Do you want to know the answer to why do babies hump things? We have a guide for you! Read on to find out more about humping in kids and how to address it appropriately. 

Is Humping or Thrusting A Completely Normal Behavior in Babies and Toddlers?

Why do babies hump things? It turns out there are quite a few different reasons why your little one may be thrusting on things like the floor or the mattress, regardless of their age.

Oftentimes they do this to soothe themselves. You may especially notice that your baby or toddler humps things when they are trying to go to sleep. If your child is tired or anxious, they may turn to this rhythmic motion. 

Other times kids humping things may be a result of them looking for attention. However, it can be dependent on their age.

Older children may quickly realize that this behavior gets them noticed by adults. They then may start humping things if they are bored, hungry, or simply want attention from their mother, father, or caregiver.

Children may also find that it feels good as well. If it feels nice, they may display this self-soothing behavior more often. 

The behavior is commonly seen when kids are trying to fall asleep. - Why do babies hump things - Baby Journey blog
The behavior is commonly seen when kids are trying to fall asleep.

Children Humping Things An Often Taboo Behavior 

Though this topic is awkward and somewhat taboo, it is relatively normal. Parents may not openly discuss it because of the awkward nature of the issue, and feel ashamed if others comment on it. But just know that you are not alone. It can be common and many children go through this stage.

Not all children hump, but some do. They may start the behavior at different ages. It isn’t unusual for a parent or caregiver to find that it eventually goes away on its own or the child “grows out of it”. 

Adults usually view humping as an indecent act but kids don’t. Grownups place an inappropriate sexual stigma on the behavior but babies and toddlers don’t know anything about that or that it is thought of as “wrong”.

It is important to know your little one likely isn’t doing this for sexual pleasure. Child humping is almost always related to something else, and it could be as simple as learning to discover new sensations. It is best not to make your children upset, embarrassed, or ashamed about this developmentally normal behavior.

When To Worry About Children Who Hump Things

If your baby humps the floor irregularly or starts suddenly out of the blue, you may want to check that there isn’t a health issue going on. Make sure they don’t have a yeast infection or some sort of rash that is causing itching. Taking them to their pediatrician may be necessary if you notice other signs of illness or infection. 

Regardless of why you may start asking, is it normal for a child to hump things? And the answer is in most cases, yes.

It’s perfectly normal for a parent and caregivers to have experienced little kids humping things. It is admittedly a bit disconcerting for you and other members of your family but isn’t usually anything to worry about. 

That being said, humping commonly isn’t a sign of sexual abuse, but it shouldn’t be ruled out. Sometimes a child may have witnessed something not appropriate on television or between parents in room. Other times it may be more serious.

If you are concerned for the child it is important to reach out to the proper authorities as quickly as possible. 

Sometimes, children hump things like the table, chair or objects because it feels good. - Why do babies hump things - Baby Journey blog
Sometimes, children hump things like the table, chair or objects because it feels good.

Deciding If and When To Stop the Behavior

If your baby humps things or people, it can be embarrassing. Moms and dads often wonder if they should discourage the behavior.

Many kids grow out of the activity. When they no longer require a self-soothing behavior or find another way to calm themselves when they are tired or anxious (like a pacifier or wiggling their legs) they may no longer engage in thrusting. Some parents decide to let things run their course and wait until their little one naturally stops humping things. 

Other parents choose not to wait. They would rather the behavior stop soon than later. This is completely fine too. In most scenarios, a child thrusting items or people can be awkward and not acceptable.

Many embarrassed parents hope there is a way to stop their children! We’ll provide ways to put an end to children humping things a little later on in this article. 

How to Know If My Baby Is Humping?

Some kids engage in thrusting and others don’t; no two children are the same. Those who are around kids may see a little girl humping and/or a little boy performing the same action, the issue isn’t exclusive to one gender. 

Thrusting at A Regular Period

How can you tell if your child is thrusting or doing something else? With humping the pelvic thrusting will often be noticeable and occur some regularity. 

If your little one is humping for self-relief reasons you may notice the self-soothing behavior around the same time each day. For example, children may do it when they are trying to put themselves to sleep at nap time or at bedtime. 

Check for triggers

You may also realize that certain things trigger the behavior in children. Do they do it when they are bored being at home? Hungry? Maybe they do it when they are stressed out, such as after a taxing trip to the grocery store.

What causes your children to hump things and when they do it can be a telltale sign that they’re using the behavior for a reason and they don’t just have an itch. 

Observe behavior around favorite items

Little ones who hump things when they’re anxious may use a favorite stuffed animal or their favorite blanket because it also brings them comfort. Many kids who use thrusting or rubbing as a self-calming technique hump the bed or mattress when they are trying to go to sleep. 

Common objects children hump include: 

Stuffed toys may trigger the self-soothing behavior in babies or toddlers. - Humping in babies - Baby Journey blog
Stuffed toys may trigger the self-soothing behavior.

Additionally, look out for the behavior around certain people. It is possible that kiddo is looking to get some attention or affection from a parent like their mother or father, or another family member like grandparents, uncle or aunt. Usually, it is hard to mistake pelvic thrusting for anything else and the signs will be quite noticeable.

Note it all down

If they are repeatedly humping things over and over it could be harder to figure out what is going on. You can try writing down what was happening at the time, or before they started the activity.

Maybe you will notice a correlation between the behavior and their emotions or experiences. If your little one is humping because it feels good you may notice them going to a certain spot or humping a certain item. But this does not mean you should start being overly involved and monitor them nonstop just to prevent them from the act.

How To Stop Babies Humping Things?

You may not want your little one thrusting, and that is perfectly okay. It can be embarrassing to hear that your little one was mattress humping at school or have them pelvic thrusting when you’re around other kids and adults. Many times, parents want their children to find a more acceptable way of self-soothing.

Whatever your reason, you want to make sure that you deal with the behavior in a kind and reassuring manner. Enforcing discipline isn’t the answer; neither is making a big deal out of it or giving it too much attention.

The first thing to do is try and figure out why your little one is displaying the behavior. It is helpful to keep a log of when your little one humps.

Write down the time of day, what was going on, the item your child is rubbing against, and their mood or feelings. Keep track of the stimuli and possible triggers. Over time you may notice a pattern.

For example, children may hump things when they are tired or hungry around lunchtime. Or, they may do it whenever they have a certain comfort item or toy. If you can figure out what is causing it then you can more accurately remedy the situation. 

How to Stop Baby Humping Things Due to Self-Soothing

You usually can stop your little one from pelvic thrusting to soothe themselves by solving the problem of why they need to self-soothe. If you notice that your little one frequently displays the behavior before mealtimes, they may be hungry. As a way to deal with their hunger, children self-soothe by humping.

Earlier mealtimes

A possible solution may be to move meal times earlier. Alternatively, you could offer them a snack in between meal times to distract them from humping things. 

Stopping the behavior if they are tired and trying to soothe themselves can be a bit more difficult. Why do babies hump themselves to sleep? The same reason other young kids suck their thumb, they’re trying to fall asleep. If they are doing the behavior because they want to go to sleep at night or for a nap, laying them down in their crib or bed might help.

Alternative ways to soothe themselves

Of course, if your child is mattress humping this isn’t an option. You can try providing them with other ways to self-soothe. They may want something to cuddle, a blanket to cover up with, or even a pacifier.

As a parent, you can try to help them get to sleep by rubbing their back or stroking their hair. Reducing or eliminating the reasons they want or need to self-soothe should help distract away or decrease the humping at some point.  

Offer healthy snacks to your little one to reduce the frequency of them humping things but don't pay the behavior too much attention. -  children humping - Baby Journey blog
Offer healthy snacks to your little one according to age to reduce the frequency of them humping things without giving too much attention.

How to Stop Kids Humping Things Due to Boredom and Anxiety

Why do kids hump when they’re bored or anxious? Kids can have big feelings that their developing minds aren’t sure how to process quite yet. If your kid is doing it because they’re anxious, the steps are similar to humping due to self-soothing.

Try to remedy the root cause. Is there any way to calm their anxiety? Can you offer them a Montessori toy that they could work on their fine motor skills or thinking skills, cuddle with them, or just do something to take their mind off of the situation? 

Distract with toys or activity

The tactic of distraction also works great for kids humping due to boredom. Distracting the child can be much easier for a parent than trying to teach the child not to do the behavior.

If you see your little one pelvic thrusting try to divert their attention. You could begin playing with their favorite toy, especially if it makes noise, ask them if they want to read a book or go outdoors with their mother or father.

Though it may seem like this is rewarding the behavior, it isn’t. You are just refocusing their attention on something else in order to stop the humping. Consistent redirection should decrease the behavior within a couple of weeks. 

Toys that make noise may help to distract your little one. - humping in babies - Baby Journey blog
Toys that make noise may help to distract your little one. Source: Lovevery

How to Stop Baby Humping Due to Wanting Attention 

If your little one notices that humping gets their attention, they may start doing it more just to get a reaction out of you. If you are thinking, “why does my baby hump?” and then you notice them doing it every time you are on your phone or computer, or with their sibling…they may be trying to signal for your attention. 

Provide enough love, care and attention

While the easy fix is to simply give them your attention, this isn’t always possible. Still, try to devote moments to them throughout the day, fulfilling their desire for affection and attention before the behavior can begin. Offer them lots of positive attention, praise them, and seize every moment you can to make them feel special. 

 If they start humping things and you are unable to stop what you are doing you can try the distraction technique. Focusing them on something else while you finish the task at hand may keep them preoccupied long enough to stop the humping until you can give them the attention they crave. 

Spend time with your children where possible. - Babies humping - Baby Journey blog
Spend time with your children where possible from the beginning to reduce the chances of them humping things.

Ignore the behavior

If you want to stop the behavior for good you will probably need to combine a few methods. Give them lots of positive attention throughout the day, but then do the opposite when they begin humping. Ignore the behavior. Do not give in to what they want or they will realize that their humping tactic works to get your attention. 

If ignoring them is too difficult you can try leaving the room (as long as they’re safe). Most kids will ramp up their efforts if you ignore them by screaming or doing it harder, but completely stop when you are gone from the room.

You will need to be consistent with ignoring them and not rewarding the behavior with your attention. Eventually, they will learn that humping is not an acceptable way to get mom or dad’s attention since you will only ignore them. 

How to Stop Baby Humping Things Due to Exposure 

If your child accidentally saw something, their behavior will probably fade with time. In the meantime, though you can take steps to help them stop humping sooner.

Don’t acknowledge or reward the behavior. Instead, do your best to ignore it. 

Then, take steps to make sure they can’t see it again. Be careful about what you watch on television or your phone, and what they can see out in the community.

Don’t engage in inappropriate behavior when they are around. Or, get a lock for your bedroom door. They are widely available and a simple hook and eye lock are easy to install.

Additionally, if they’re old enough, teach them to knock before entering if the door is closed.  

How to Stop Baby Humping a Certain Object

If you find that a certain toy or object like stuffed animals is triggering the humping, you may need to take it away. Hopefully, the issue will then be resolved.

If your little one begins humping something else, review your notes about timing, mood, and triggers to see if you can identify the root cause of the behavior. Then you can treat it appropriately. 

Is Medical or Psychological Help Necessary for Kids Humping Things?

Many parents searching for answers about why do toddlers dry hump and what to do if their darling little one is humping wonder if they need expert help. In most situations, little ones who are humping do not need medical or psychological help.

Most do it for self-soothing reasons, others are exploring their body. You never want them to feel embarrassed or ashamed of the action, even if they are doing it for pleasure as this could cause psychological issues later in life. [1]

Instead, do your best to teach them about other ways to handle their emotions and what things are okay to do in public and what are not. 

However, if you are concerned about the child’s physical or mental wellbeing, it doesn’t hurt to reach out. Are they actually humping or does their private area itch due to something like a yeast infection? If so, contact their doctor.

Is the humping in addition to other signs that could indicate something like autism [2] or other developmental disorders? Their doctor is again a good contact. And of course, if you suspect abuse, reach out to the appropriate authorities. 

Generally, though, humping is completely normal behavior that doesn’t require medical or psychological interventions. Don’t feel bad if your child has discovered this new pastime, it is only a stage.

Don’t Worry About This Normal Self-Soothing Behavior!

Hopefully, we have put your mind at ease about this odd and sometimes awkward baby behavior. You can rest assured that it is usually normal and just a phase they will go through as they age.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments! We, or other parents, may have some helpful answers! 

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