While a nursery ceiling fan might seem a little boring to new parents (and everyone else!), there are a few big reasons why a baby stares at one for what seems like forever! To be honest, we don’t know exactly why a baby seems so fascinated by fans (if only they could tell us!), but there are some great theories out there!
Some of the best theories are that a fan can actually be a sensory experience for your baby, and it can have a calming effect. The fan also holds your baby’s attention because babies are naturally curious.
Even if we don’t exactly know what all the excitement is about when it comes to babies and fans, we do know they can actually be beneficial to your baby!
Why Do Babies Like Ceiling Fans? All You Need to Know
Ceiling fans are a common feature in many homes and offices, and it’s not uncommon to see babies staring intently at them. In fact, it’s almost as if they’re mesmerized by the rotating blades. So, why do babies love ceiling fans? Let’s take a closer look.
The Visual Stimulation
One theory is that babies are attracted to the movement of the blades. From birth, babies are wired to seek out movement and are naturally drawn to objects that move. This is why mobiles, which are often used in baby cribs, are so popular. The movement of the blades on a ceiling fan is similar to that of a mobile, and it’s easy to see why babies find them fascinating.
Additionally, babies don’t yet have a well developed sense of vision. Your baby’s eyes won’t be able to track a moving object until about 3 months of age. But when staring at a spinning ceiling fan, they don’t have to track it, they can choose to look at it or look away whenever they want! In fact, babies primarily use their peripheral (side) vision when they are first born. Their central vision is still developing.
The Role of Curiosity in Babies
Babies are so darn curious! They love exploring new things and trying to figure out the whole world. Ceiling fans may not be something that babies encounter every day (unless there is one in their room!), so they may find them particularly interesting. Even if the use of a fan is something babies have gotten used to, it’s still a novel way for something to move. The constant movement and sound of the fan might be of particular interest to your baby.
Another theory is that young infants are drawn to the contrast between the fan blades and the ceiling. According to Michigan State University, infant vision is still developing in the first few months of life. Because of this, babies are drawn to fans because of the stark contrasts in color. Often, the blades of a ceiling fan are bright colors, while the ceiling is usually white. This difference likely contributes to why babies love fans so much!
The Calming Effect
Many experts talk about the benefit of using a white noise machine to help with baby sleep. The sound of the blades moving through the air can create a gentle, constant hum that can help lull babies to sleep. The soothing and constant sound of a fan is one of the best ways to help your baby get to sleep and stay asleep.
Why Ceiling Fans Are Actually Good to Put in a Baby’s Nursery
One of the most important safety issues for baby sleep is making sure your babe has a healthy body temperature while they snooze! The American Academy of Pediatrics discusses the importance of decreasing the risk of SIDS by keeping the nursery room’s temperature from getting too hot. If your baby’s room tends to get hot (and you don’t have an air conditioner, or don’t want to turn it on), then a fan might be the perfect remedy!
If your baby is sweaty, has flushed skin, or has a hot chest, your baby is too hot.
In a JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article from 2008, the author stated that a fan can help with ventilation in a baby’s room. The concern is that babies might be re-breathing the exhaled carbon dioxide that can get trapped near their airways due to bedding. These increased levels of carbon dioxide near the baby’s mouth may cause them to inhale too much carbon dioxide, instead of oxygen. This is a major risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome and can be reduced by the use of a fan.
As mentioned above, a fan is an effective way to use white noise without buying a white noise machine. Most baby sleep experts will tell you about the benefits of white noise to help your baby sleep. And if your baby is sleeping more, so are you!
If you are looking for a good bedtime routine for your baby or toddler, check out my post here.
Safe Sleep and Fans
Keep Baby Safe
Obviously one of the most important jobs for new parents is to keep their baby safe! So when you are thinking about putting a fan in the baby room, there are a few things to consider.
If you are going to use a ceiling fan, it’s important that you install it correctly using the given instructions.
If you have an older child that is in a bunk bed, ceiling fans won’t work, unless they are far from the bed.
Some people opt for a portable fan or a tower fan. If that’s the case, be careful about the cord, and don’t let baby play with the outlet.
You also want to keep it out of baby’s reach when it is on, so they don’t try sticking their fingers in the fan, ouch!
Room Temperature Regulation
Keeping baby’s room at the right temperature is really important. By having a fan in the room, you can help to regulate the temperature to keep your baby cool and healthy.
Should I be worried if my baby stares at ceiling fans?
The short answer is no. You don’t need to worry if your infant stares at the ceiling fan. Many people worry that staring at a ceiling fan is one of the signs of autism. But it’s a totally normal interest for young babies.
Staring at a fan can be a potential sign of autism, but only if there are other risk factors at play, too. If your child turns 2 and stares at a lot of fans and other inanimate objects and avoids eye contact, it might be worth bringing up to your doctor.
For more information about autism check out my post here.
It is super normal and okay that your young baby loves fans. And in fact, having a fan in your baby’s room can be good for them for a lot of reasons! So whether your baby enjoys the calm, rhythmic motion and hum of the fan, or they love the high color contrast or the interesting movement, it’s all normal behavior.
It’s not surprising that they look at a ceiling fan a lot since babies are often on their backs. And there is no reason to be concerned with the fan fascination, as long as your baby is looking at you sometimes, too! If you get really concerned about it, it’s always okay to bring it up with your doctor.