HELP! My baby boy keeps hitting himself to get to sleep.

[deleted account] ( 15 moms have responded )

My baby is now nearly 8 months old and from about 4 months old, he has insisted on hitting his forehead when he is laid down and trying to get to sleep. Sometimes he is just tapping his head so I leave him as it does help him get to sleep but other times, he is hitting himself so hard that I have to stop him or he would hurt himself. He is not angry or upset when he does this and in fact, sometimes he is actually asleep and is just continuing for a little while once he had dropped off. Is this normal? Should I always stop him, even if he is just tapping? Does anyone know what this is all about?

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Krista - posted on 11/05/2010

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Actually, believe it or not, this is something that isn't all that uncommon. From Babycenter:

The rhythmic back-and-forth movements may soothe your baby and help him drift off to sleep, in the same way being rocked in a rocking chair does. Strangely enough, your baby may also bang his head to distract himself from pain — if he's teething or has an ear infection, for example.

Head banging is surprisingly common. Up to 20 percent of babies and toddlers bang their head on purpose, although boys are three times more likely to do it than girls. Head banging often starts in the second half of the first year and peaks between 18 and 24 months of age. Your baby's head-banging habit may last for several months, or even years, though most children outgrow it by age 3.

Sarah - posted on 11/05/2010

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hey i have the same problem whit my now 2 1/2 year old daugther and she seen her docteur and everything me to she haves been doing in seen she was 3 months old some time she does it so hard whe have to go stop her i cant seem to find anything to make her stop also

[deleted account]

Thank you all so much for your advice. Ethan hasn't hurt himself and he is only doing it with either his empty hand or a cuddly toy that he is holding in his hand. I think I'll take him back to see a different Doctor just to be 100%. He's not showing any other signs of unusual behaviour and is so relaxed when he does it, I think you're probably right that it is to soothe himself off to sleep.

Khelcy - posted on 05/11/2013

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My son does this too. It scares me because i dont want him hurting himself. So i looked it up, and found that Its pretty common. I try putting his blanket in his hand because he likes to hold things. Or play with my hair. He stops doing it then. (For the moment.)

Jennifer - posted on 11/05/2010

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Yeah, Krista's info makes sense to me. It could be that your son tried the hitting when he was teething and after experiencing relief got into the habbit of self-soothing that way. My son would hit his face sometimes well before he cut any teeth. He shaked his head for a couple of months too and then stopped. I think the hitting was a nerve tingling thing from his teeth dropping down into the jaw.

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Sarah - posted on 11/05/2010

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o also my grandmother told me my uincle that is now 40 was also doing the same and he is find now

Elizabeth - posted on 08/12/2009

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My older brother was a "head banger". Mom says he would rock back and forth on his hands and knees banging his head on crib til he fell asleep. It was just some comfort thing. He eventually out grew it.

You may try playing music for him or using a metranome which can be soothing.

Chris - posted on 08/12/2009

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My son banged his head on his pillow until he was four or five. He never hurt himself and seemed fine. I remember my brother sitting up in bed and banging his head on the crib for a few years as well. There is nothing wrong with him.

--- - posted on 08/11/2009

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I have never heard of this, I would talk to his doctor, does he use his hands? if so maybe put padded gloves so he cant hurt him self. is it the side of the bed? try padding the side rails to reduce the impact.

Sabrina - posted on 08/11/2009

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My 18 month old twin daughter does the same thing and she started doing it at 4 months . She also used to use bang her head off the matress and at times while close to falling asleep she'v get such rocking momentum that her head would end up hitting onto the head board of her crib. Her father and I were concerned that one of our twins would do this and not the other. So we tookher to our pediatrician and she told us , This is a self soothing action and as long as she does'n t cause her self harm or bruising . It really is just like sucking their thumb or twirling hair , tapping feet, or even rocking back and forth. Go with your instinct!!!!

In my case I just put extra blakies and I have a baby pillow and stuffies .

Just always go with your gut and Its OK to ask for a second opinion betterbe safe than sorry .

That's what we did, we got two and all got the same answers.

How much damage could a baby cause to its self?

Even as adult it would have to take incredible strength to cause damage, were talking about a crib made of soft wood?

Good luck !!

Teal - posted on 08/09/2009

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not to alarm you, but these are early signs of autism, find a qualified pediatrician and take your son to him. This is NOT normal!!! Good luck

[deleted account]

His doctor isn't very good. Basically, because my baby hasn't hurt himself or had any injury, the doctor isn't that interested. I don't think he takes it that seriously but it's actually quite scary sometimes.

Thanks for the link, I'll have a look at it.

[deleted account]

No, not leaving anything out except that it seemed to start when he was holding a cuddly toy and he would tap his forehead using that - now he does it whether he has the cuddly toy or not, hence me stepping in because he may hurt himself otherwise. Apparently, his daddy used to bang his head on the wall when he was little as a self soothing thing? I had never heard about this sort of thing before.

Sharon - posted on 08/09/2009

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What does his pediatrician say?



No its not normal unless you're leaving something out.

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