Tickling Babies – When Can You Start and When to Avoid

5 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Tickling Babies

Researchers and caregivers alike have been enthralled by the seemingly innocent and spontaneous kind of play known as tickling babies for millennia. Numerous families have found joy and connection in the delicate art of evoking laughter by lightly touching a baby’s delicate skin. This close contact is thought to foster early emotional ties, build trust, and establish the groundwork for a healthy parent-child relationship.

Fundamentally, it seems that tickling babies crosses cultural, generational, and geographic borders. This method is frequently used by parents, grandparents, and other caregivers to develop a close bond with their young charges. They are drawn to it by the contagious laughter and bright grins it inspires. Between adults and newborns, it fosters a special nonverbal dialogue that is a tactile symphony of touch and response.

In This Article

When Can You Tickle a Baby?

Tickling with your infant can begin at any age. You can start tickling once your infant is six months old, as a general rule. By this time babies gain the ability to create noises to express their feelings of satisfaction or distress. Babies are more likely to express their displeasure at six months if they are not enjoying the tickling experience.

When Do Babies Understand Tickling?

When do Babies Understand Tickling

Babies commonly begin to giggle at the age of six months. At this age, babies develop a better sense of touch and are capable of experiencing ticklish sensations. They also improve their ability to identify between tickling methods.

A baby’s feet are often ticklish in the same place during the first year of life. Babies get better at recognizing who is tickling them and how they react when a stranger tries. This highlights the significance of training newborns not to trust strangers.

In an experiment of tickling the feet of four- and six-month-old newborns, with the feet occasionally crossed, 70% of the time, the younger babies responded by moving the tickling foot. However, when their feet were crossed, six-month-olds could only identify the source of the tickling 50% of the time, which was no better than random chance.

How to Tell if The Baby Dislikes Ticking?

Babies, especially very young ones, may not be able to vocally convey their likes and dislikes. Therefore, you must watch out for any nonverbal clues and behaviors to see if dislike being tickled. There are several indicators that a baby does not like being tickled

1. Tension and Rigidity

If the baby tenses up, pulls away, or gets rigid, it indicates that they are uncomfortable or do not appreciate the tickling.

2. Frowning or Crying

If the infant begins to pout, whine, scream, or exhibit indications of distress, it’s a clear indicator that the tickling is causing them pain.

3. Physical Discomfort

If the baby appears physically uncomfortable after being tickled, such as touching the tickled region or displaying symptoms of discomfort, it is possible that they did not appreciate the feeling.

4. Facial Expression Changes

Keep an eye out for changes in the baby’s facial expression. It’s likely that they’re not enjoying the tickling if they shift from smiling or indifferent to displaying symptoms of discomfort or unhappiness.

Every baby is different and their reaction towards tickling is different. Always pay attention to babies’ reactions and if you notice some sad reactions, stop immediately and try different things to interact with them. Always take care of babies’ emotional well-being and overall happiness.

When to Avoid Tickling Babies?

When to Avoid Tickling Babies

While tickling may be a pleasant and entertaining way to interact with newborns, you must be aware of when to avoid tickling in order to preserve the baby’s comfort and well-being. Here are several instances why you should avoid tickling the baby

1. Discomfort or Overstimulation

Avoid tickling if the baby appears to be uncomfortable, unhappy, or overstimulated. Some newborns may dislike the sensation of being tickled, especially if they are already sensitive or temperamental.

[Read : Overstimulation in Babies]

2. Sickness or Health Concerns

Avoid tickling the afflicted regions if the infant has any health issues, injuries, or allergies. Tickling might cause discomfort or aggravate any current problems.

3. Sleep or Rest Time

Avoid tickling babies during sleep or rest periods. Babies require sleep, and tickling may disrupt or make it harder for them to fall asleep.

4. Consent and Communication

While newborns cannot vocally assent, you may observe their nonverbal clues. If a baby appears to love the tickling and responds favorably, it’s a good sign that they’re having a good time.

5. Feed

Avoid ticking during or post-feed times. Babies may get uncomfortable and may even throw up their milk.

Other Ways to Make Babies Laugh

dad making funny faces

Babies have an innocent yet endearing sense of humor. They frequently find happiness in the littlest of things. Other methods to make young babies laugh include

1. Making Funny Faces

Exaggerate your facial emotions, such as sticking out your tongue, expanding your eyes, or puffing out your cheeks. Babies may get fascinated with these unexpected changes in your facial expressions.

2. Playing Peek-a-Boo

Cover your face with your hands, then show it fast while yelling “peek-a-boo!” This simple game of hiding and exposing may keep infants entertained for hours.

[Read : Why is Peek-A-Boo Important For Your Baby?]

3. Making Funny Sounds

Make amusing noises such as raspberries, exaggerated sneezes, or animal noises. Babies frequently find them entertaining and fascinating.

4. Making Some Silly Dance Moves

Play some music and dance about the room with exaggerated moves. Babies like seeing your crazy and lively dancing routines.

5. Singing Silly Songs

Exaggerate your actions and attitudes when singing stupid or humorous tunes. It is not necessary to be a superb vocalist; babies are more interested in fun.

6. Play The Chasing game

Slowly crawl or move towards them, then back away, as if chasing them. Babies may find this game thrilling and amusing.

Tickling babies has a timeless charm. This seemingly harmless style of play encourages laughter and enriches the bonding experience. Tickling promotes parent-child interaction across cultural, generational, and geographic borders. So, the next time you want to entertain your little one, try ticking them but make sure that they are enjoying it before you continue.

[Read : 13 Adorable Ways To Make Your Baby Laugh]


1. Where Should I Tickle a Baby?

Tickling is an activity that provides an opportunity for shared laughter and increases the bonding experience with your baby. Tickling is best done on the abdomen, the little toes of the feet, the neck, and the region beneath the knees.

2. Why Don’t Babies Laugh When You Tickle Them?

The sensory experience in babies has not fully developed yet and the tactile functions may still take time to fully mature. This may be the reason for babies not laughing when tickled. As your baby grows up, you can see that they start laughing when you tickle them.

Read Also: When Do Babies Start Laughing?

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

Responses (0)

Please check a captcha

Want curated content sharply tailored for your exact stage of parenting?

Discover great local businesses around you for your kids.

Get regular updates, great recommendations and other right stuff at the right time.


Our site uses cookies to make your experience on this site even better. We hope you think that is sweet.