This post may contain affiliate links. Read more in my disclosure policy.

by Lisa
(Plymouth, MA)

My 12-month-old daughter will slap her head repetitively and when we try to stop her, she just continues to keep doing it. We try to tell her no and do nice and rub her face but it doesn’t stop her.
My husband and I are worried. Is this a phase she’s just going through or is it something more? She will also pull her hair too.

Please help us. Thank you!!

Baby Help Line:

Why Babies Hit Themselves

Being 12 months old, I would say yes, it is highly likely to be a phase she is going through! It is quite common for babies to do things like this at around their first birthday. They hit themselves, bite themselves, bang their little heads against the floor or something similar when they are angry and frustrated. It looks really bad and I think you’re doing the right thing to continue to tell her and show her to not hurt herself. (Not that it will change her behavior…)

It will pass, probably within a few months or so. Just make sure she doesn’t hurt herself bad. And don’t be worried, it’s normal (but strange for us) and will pass!

Reasons to worry would be either if you think she might be hitting herself to mitigate pain, eg head ache, her ears or teeth, OR if she really just hits herself repetitively for no apparent reason and also isn’t developing towards her milstones as you would expect. Both these possible situations would make a visit to the Dr appropriate.

Here are some other questions and answers from parents dealing with similar issues:

Hope this helps,

Find comments below.



Oct 12, 2013

18mth girl throws fit & fights diaper change
by: Anonymous

My 18mth old niece has started throwing fits and
fighting, kicking and screaming when it is time to change her diaper. Wet/poopy doesn’t matter. If you try to clean poop away/out of her vagina, she has even clamped her legs shut on me.

What do you think is the cause of this new behavior?

Oct 12, 2013

Time for potty, or diapering while standing up?
by: Paula (EasyBabyLife)


So your niece has decided that she doesn’t like diaper change. Who can blame her 🙂

Has she started expressing her will in other situations too – like wanting to feed herself, wanting to help doing “grown-up things” like getting dressed or deciding what to wear, helping with setting the table or deciding when it is bed time?

18 months is a mental development stage, going from baby to toddler and understanding a lot more about the world, including that many others around the house get to do thing the toddler can’t. Frustrating for sure!

Many babies start refusing diapering at this age. My own youngest son simply took his diapers off everywhere. He hated them. And peed on the floor… I bought him a bright red potty at 18 months, and he loved trying it. He weaned himself off the diapers at 2.5 years old – just declared one Monday morning that he wanted only underwear, because he had stopped using diapers. And he was right!

One way to get around this problem is to let the baby stand up during the diapering. It can be a bit tricky to hold the baby and do the diapering at the same time, but you’ll get the hang of it. If they stand infront of a mirror, for example, it can be great distraction.

Another possibility is a diaper toy – something she only gets to play with during the diapering.

Co-operating with an 18-months old takes creativity. They are determined, learning fast, and impossible to negotiate with or discipline, but wonderful in their urge to develop and be a “big girl or boy”.

Try focusing on having fun and avoid as many power struggles as possible. Of course she needs to have her diaper changed, but maybe a little later, while standing up, playing with her toys, or whatever makes her co-operate. And why not give her a potty to try out when and if she wants?

Hope this helps,


We have changed to a new commenting system. Add your comments below or return to Baby Development Q&A.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    My sister near about 3 yrs age.when she born she was normal baby and was speaking but now she stopped speaking n only shouting n continuously hitting right hands to right side of the head n parents are so confused that they r doing any kind of treatment for the baby to neat her so please suggest any treatment for her

    1. Paula Dennholt
      Paula Dennholt

      Your sister should definitely take her daughter to a pediatrician. She might be in pain due to an ear infection or even a very sore throat, for example. If she has stopped talking completely, then it could also be some developmental concern. But no one should recommend treatment without examining the little girl. It would probably be helpful for the diagnosis if they can write down when the problems started and if there is anything else that has changed in her behavior, e.g. sleep, feeding, activity level. I wish you good luck! Very kind of you to reach out to help you niece!

Leave a Reply