Hand Hitting Head: Why Does My Baby Keep Hitting His Head With His Hand?
Mothers are often concerned when they see their babies hitting their heads with hands. There are different reasons for this behaviour.
It can be a disturbing sight to see your baby hitting his head with his hand. Even more so, it can be alarming, especially when it's new territory for you. It may leave you constantly on edge, too restless that you're always checking on your child to see if something has gone wrong. And it is not like babies can point you in the direction of their discomfort. Sometimes, it's all your baby can do—engage in the hand hitting head action.And he leaves you wondering: why does my baby keep hitting his head with his hand?
This hand hitting head phenomenon is common among babies. It's not peculiar to just yours. Kiran Pure, a registered clinical child psychologist in Halifax, noted that “Though it may be alarming to parents, this behaviour is pretty common—about a quarter of toddlers will hit themselves in the face or head with some regularity. Headbanging often starts after about six months of age and peaks at 18 to 24 months,” he says.
When babies are going through rapid mental development is when the behaviour comes to a peak. Around 18 to 24 months usually. And most babies stop around three years old or even earlier.
Hand Hitting Head Behaviour: Why Does Your Baby Keep Hitting His Head With His Hand?
Obviously, babies don't talk. So, for one, it might be them trying to talk to you about something. Here are a few things they might be trying to communicate when they hit their heads.
- Your baby wants to relax
Beating yourself to relax—who does such a thing? Babies. Most of them do it in order to get themselves to relax. Some developmental experts believe that moving in a rhythmic motion helps the child relax. This rhythmic banging happens when they wake up in the middle of the night, or as they're falling asleep.
- Your baby might be frustrated
Even for adults dealing with frustration can be impulsive. When you see your toddler having a go at himself, he just might be trying to blow off some steam. Because he hasn't learned the art of expression yet using words, he is compensating by using physical actions. He may also be doing it as a way to comfort himself during this time.
- Your baby wants your attention
A bit of attention may be all your baby wants when he is hitting himself in the head. It is normal for you to be all over your baby when he appears to be doing something alarming. So your baby might continue to hit himself in order for you to continue fussing over him.
Hand hitting head behaviour: Your baby wants to relieve pain
Your baby hitting himself might be driven by the need to relieve pain. Maybe he has an ear infection or he is teething. The hitting might be a way to take his mind off the pain of teething or ear infection.
For the heck of it
Sometimes it might be that your baby does it because he simply can. So he does. It is like having control of his own body in a way, and it is interesting and entertaining to him.
How do you deal with your baby's hand hitting head behaviour?
It can be difficult to know exactly how to soothe babies when they are self-harming. To keep them safe here are a few things to do.
- Physical assistance: when babies are in the attitude of hitting themselves, you can reach out and block the blow with your hand. This might calm the baby down for the time being.
- Safe environment: If your kid is in the habit of banging his head against something in your home, move the object away or completely have them removed.
- Soothing words: speak soothing words to them. Let them know that they are safe where they are. You can give them something tender like a teddy bear to hold on to.
A more long-lasting approach: what you can do
A more long-lasting approach to helping kids who hit themselves is to start helping them identify and put feelings into words. For instance, if you feel like they are angry, tell them in plain words what you feel. You might say something like, “I can see you are angry.” knowing that you recognize their feelings helps ease them out of self-harming behaviour. Also, teaching them verbal expression will help them in anger management going forward.
However, if after your baby continues this hand hitting head behaviour, it might be a symptom of something deeper. Sometimes, the behavior may be associated with autism. Children with autism and developmental disabilities find self-injury soothing. You should seek professional help.