Toddler Balance Problems

By Brandy Burgess
If your toddler wobbles when he walks, he may have a balance problem.
If your toddler wobbles when he walks, he may have a balance problem.

By 12 months of age your toddler may have mastered the complicated art of standing, and by 15 months, walking should be second-nature. It’s understandable if Junior falls when running away from Aunt Mildred’s messy lipstick kisses, but if he lacks balance in normal circumstances, there may be a balance disorder to blame. Balance disorders can make toddlers feel dizzy or unsteady when playing, walking, running, jumping or even when lying down. Diagnosing your little Weeble Wobble’s balance problem can result in a better quality of life.

Benign Paroxysmal Torticollis of Infancy

Benign paroxysmal torticollis, or “twisted neck,” typically begins within the first six months of infancy. You may notice that your little one keeps his head tilted to prevent getting dizzy. To help understand what your tot is feeling, ask him “Do you feel like you’re going to fall?” or “Is the room spinning?” Tots may also experience other uncomfortable symptoms, such as vomiting, fussiness, excessive sweating, paleness, headaches and of course wobbling while running. Fortunately, your tot won’t have to suffer for long, as paroxysmal torticollis of infancy will usually go away by your tot’s fifth birthday.


With all of the fuss-provoking childhood infections out there such as colds and flu, ear infections and chicken pox, you may be disappointed to find another one added to the list. Labyrinthitis is typically caused by a viral infection in your toddler’s inner ear, often resulting in an unfortunate case of vertigo – which is when your little one feels dizzy or when he complains that the room around him is spinning. If your tot continually says “What?” when you speak to him, it may be related to his labyrinthitis diagnosis. Your tot may also experience some mild hearing loss, but in most cases, this is only temporary. Like many childhood health conditions, labyrinthitis will often disappear once the infection has passed, but with the help of your tot’s pediatrician, medicine can be prescribed to deal with the symptoms.

Vestibular Neuronitis (Neuritis)

Vestibular neuronitis is caused when the vestibular nerve in your little one’s ear becomes inflamed, often due to a virus. Your pediatrician may ask you and your tot several questions to help diagnose his balance problem. Does Junior suffer from vertigo, vomiting, nausea or involuntary eye movements? According to, these are the primary symptoms associated with this balance disorder. Vestibular neuronitis will disappear on its own once the virus has worked its way through the body, and your tot will be back to running, skipping and jumping off your couch in no time.

Benign Paroxysmal Vertigo of Childhood

Benign paroxysmal vertigo can be a scary condition for little tikes. It typically affects kids ages 2 to 12, and will usually go away before your little man grows into a big man. One of the most common symptoms that you may notice is vertigo. When your little one shakes his head in frustration or to give you a big “No!” the rapid head movement can cause tiny particles or fluid to build up in the ear. Unfortunately, your tot may suffer from vomiting, nausea, headaches or involuntary eye movements along with his BPV. There is good news for Junior, as these episodes of dizziness usually disappear within minutes. If your toddler has frequent episodes, a therapist may be able to reposition the head to move the tiny particles or fluid to relieve symptoms like dizziness and loss of balance. Toddlers who feel woozy or are constantly falling may be suffering from BPV.

About the Author

Based in northern New York, Brandy Burgess has been writing on pets, technical documentation and health resources since 2007. She also writes on personal development for Burgess' work also has appeared on various online publications, including Burgess holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer information systems from DeVry University and her certified nurses aid certification.