This is a very common behavior in children between the age group of 18 to 24 months. This habit may continue for some months. It is observed more in boys than girls.
- One theory states that just like thumb sucking or clutching a toy, babies bang their head for self-soothing.
- Some babies bang their head for getting relief or to distract themselves from teething pain or ear infection pain.
- This habit of head banging indication of development problems like autism or seizure issues. But normal, healthy children are also known to do it.
- Some babies do it just to attract attention. If parents get worried over this behavior, baby would repeat it just for seeking attention.
- Sometimes children cannot express their anger or stress and as a result they bang head while throwing a temper tantrum.
How to deal with it?
- Parents should make sure that the child is not hurting himself during head banging. The screws of his crib or cot should be checked often for any loosening due to banging. Soft pillows or quilts should not be used to absorb his banging; these may increase risk of SIDS. Bumpers, if used, should not be soft and should be tied to the crib sides.
- Parents should not pay immediate attention while the child is banging his head, that would encourage him to do it often. Instead, parents should give all attention when he is not banging his head. Showing displeasure over it also can lead to increase in banging.
- If the child is doing it to get rhythm while going to sleep, then parents should provide other methods like some rhythmic music, clapping or dancing. If the child is engaged in many physical activities during day, it could use up his energy, thus reducing the banging.
- Generally children do not bang their head too hard to hurt themselves, so parents need not worry or fuss over it.
- In some children head banging can be to comfort or relax themselves after the day’s activities, while settling in sleep. In such case if parents establish a comforting bedtime routine of a relaxing massage, bath and rocking etc before sleep time. It would help in reducing his banging habit.
- In most cases it is not necessary to consult a doctor. But if the baby is banging his head for long periods of time or hurting himself or doesn’t respond to parents while banging, then medical consultation is essential.