Baby Hitting Himself On His Head – Why?
We are concerned about our 10-month-old boy who recently started hitting himself on his head. It seems he does this when he gets excited. Our son would hit the right side of his head with his right hand and sometimes both sides with both hands. And it seems he is doing this more often now.
We’ve read many forums where other parents are experiencing the same thing. However, I have not seen in these forums what explains this behavior and if it is normal.
Should we be concerned? Is this a normal behavior? What is the cause or explanation of this behavior?
Your advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you,
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Baby Hitting Himself – Normal Or Not?
You’re completely right that this is a common behavior, especially at around 1-year-old. Babies hit themselves, bite themselves, bang their heads against the wall or floor etc. It looks awful but is usually their way of coping with frustration and anger. Often, the baby does the same (hit or bite) their parents too when angry with them or even just for fun and to see the reaction.
And as you mention, they can also do this out of excitement; another strong feeling. Another possibility is pain-relief, so having his ears checked could be a good idea, even though if you for sure can derive the behavior to excitement, and he is showing no other signs of illness, then I think you most likely have already identified the reason for his hitting.
You don’t have to worry. It is normal and it passes. Since your boy in now 10 months old, he is starting to understand words, and you can say “no” and gently stop him from hitting himself. You can also show him with his hand how to “pat gently” or something like that. BUT don’t make a lot of fuss about it – if your reactions are strong, or if he gets a lot of attention for this behavior, you might end up actually reinforcing it! So unless he seems to be hurting himself, try ignoring the behavior and focus on distracting him instead.
Hitting the head all through the day with no apparent reason and falling behind developmental milestones would be a reason for concern and should be discussed with at pediatrician, but that does not seem to be the case at all with your son.
I’ve noticed for example that talking even to quite young babies (at around 1-1.5 years) in a very engaged way, confirming their feeling without judging can really make them calmer. At least sometimes. But again, any kind of positive distraction is usually the most effective way with young children if you want to reduce a certain behavior.
But above all – don’t worry! Your boy is learning how to deal with his emotions, and that takes time. (A whole lifetime, really… 😉 ) Just make sure he doesn’t hurt himself or someone else. And don’t yell at him.
Hope this helps!
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