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  • Post last modified:December 10, 2020

Mom’s Question:
Is it normal for a baby to hit themselves in the head repeatedly when they are tired? Is this something I should be concerned about? The doctor said her ears are clear but he has no answer for why she hits herself like that.

Dee Dee

Baby Helpline:

Baby Hits Her Head When Tired – Reasons & What to Do

I have received this question several times from worried parents because it looks so odd when a baby hits their own head!

But even just judging for the number of questions and the huge number of comments, it is a common behavior.

You can check out these two Q&As on the same topic and read the comments. I am sure you will find it calming. :-)

4 Resons Why Babies Slap Their Heads

To answer your question – babies do hit their heads for several reasons.

One of the reasons is actually self-soothing, for example when tired. Some babies and older children too find the srythmic slapping soothing and it can actualy make them relax.

Another reason is pain relief, so it is great that you had your baby’s ear checked. I can imagine that any pain could become more apparent to the child when everything calms down and it is time to sleep. So hitting their head could be pain relief when they are tired.

Teething can also make a baby hit his or her head or face.

There can be developmental issues involved too, but in that case, you would definitely see other signs as well.

What to Do When Baby Hits Her Head

So what to do about it..?

Well, first of all, ruling out any physical pain or illness (like you just did) is a good start.

Secondly, you need to make sure your baby doesn’t really injure her or himself. This is usually not a problem, but for example, make sure the baby doesn’t have any heavy or sharp objects at times when he or she is likely to start the hitting.

Third, don’t react to it! If you start giving your baby a lot of attention when hitting, there is a significant risk that you will reinforce the behavior. Instead, ignore it as much as possible, and divert your baby’s attention to something else if the behavior disturbs you a lot or you are afraid that your baby can get hurt. Why not try a lullaby and cuddle, for example? Or patting the lovey?

But again, if it is just a matter of hitting the head relatively softly when tired, it is likely to be a self-soothing thing and really nothing to worry about.

I hope this helps,


May 12, 2016I feel so much better

by: Anonymous

I thought my 14 month old had a problem. She does it all the time when feeding. I am so glad to hear she is not the only one.

May 12, 2016Me too
by: Anonymous
My 9 month old also hits the side of her head when she is tired. I think she does it when she is struggling to fall asleep. I also think it has to do with her teething as well. Maybe somehow keeping the rhythm helps her to fall asleep and also to ignore the tooth pain.

Jul 10, 2016head hitting

by: Anonymous

as first time grandparents we were very worried when our 6 month old grandson starting hiting his head. thank you for your re-assurance that he is not alone


by: Anonymous

Well, my baby is 2 years old and I’m extremely concerned about this situation. He hits his head every time he is goes to bed. He does it against the pillow, but anyways that scares me. I’m not sure if that situation can cause a brain damage

Jul 26, 2016yup, mine too

by: Anonymous

My baby is 5 months old and just recently started bonking herself on the head while drinking her bottle, and usually she’s tired. I am hoping it is related to teething pain and isn’t anything to worry about. I am relieved it is so common.

Jul 30, 2016granddaughter hitting self in head

by: Anonymous

My granddaughter is hitting her self in the head also on the left side. We all pull her hand away and so no pretty face. It is always same area of side of forehead near temple. Any other parents having the same area of head?

Aug 03, 2016mine too!
by: Lucy
Yes. My 6 month old hits herself with left hand near left temple. We don’t like it! It sound pretty common though?

Aug 12, 2016My kids too

by: Anonymous

My 11 month old son recently started smacking the side of his head and the back of his head gently everytime I try putting him too sleep .. I was exremley scared . My three year old son bangs his head againgst a pillow everytime his about to go to sleep . And my daughter sucks her thumb. I’ve done alot of research and asked alot of doctors and nurse’s what does that mean in my son’s case and no one seem to be able to give me an answer. so i took it upon myself to research it. And it’s nothing extreme. They hit their heads against pillow because it their method of rocking themselves to sleep. They smack their heads to either rock themselves to sleep and or becuse their teething . It’s their way of dealing with teething and falling alsleep without the use of a pacifier. Don’t be scared you guys it’s normal.. They will soon grow out of it.

Sep 04, 2016thank you for this post!

by: Anonymous

I am so glad to have found this post. I’ve been concerned for months about my daughter hitting herself in the head – it does always seem to be when she’s tired/nursing/eating. She’s a year old now. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone in not only my concerns but that my daughter’s behaviour is not uncommon. :-)

Sep 14, 2016slaps face when tired

by: Anonymous

My son does the same thing. He’s 13 months old and he’s been doing for about 3 or 4 months now. Its so comforting to know he’s not the only one doing this :-)

Sep 20, 2016Ours just started
by: John
Our 11 month old son started hitting himself in the head before bed time while drinking a bottle. Seems like this may be a normal thing to do.

Sep 22, 2016Another member of the club!
by: Numi-noodles
My 5-month little boy has just started too, originally, though, he was hitting his stomach, The doctors have told me its something they do to stimulate themselves, I’m not sure if it was a good thing or if he was implying I’m not giving him enough to do! Anyway, after reading all your comments I’m not worried at all, he only does it when he is feeding and he is teething at the mo. Thanks for the reassurance! xx

Sep 30, 2016Hitting head
by: mansfield1
My 6 1/2 month old son has been doing this for some time now. Mostly when he is tired and nursing or taking the bottle. Makes me nuts too! Glad to hear that he isn’t the only one. He may be close to teething also.

Oct 15, 2016very cool!

by: Emomma

I feel so much better after reading some of these posts. My 7-month-old baby girl Just started hitting herself in the head 3 days ago but only does it right before bedtime feeding. She is teething and I just recently quit breastfeeding her and put her on formula. This really gives me a piece of mind. I’m taking her to a doctor visit tmw and was gonna ask him about it and still is but not near as worried now.

Oct 23, 2016Mine too

by: Glenda

I was concerned that this may be a sign my little girl was autistic. She mostly hits the sides of her head while nursing but there are times when she does it when she isn’t nursing. She started this at 5 months and is now 9 months. I usually place my hand in the way so she can hit my hand but she will grab my hand and move it so she can do it more.. I usually will start singing a funny song that she likes and it distracts her and she forgets she was doing it. Her next checkup I’m going to mention it to the Dr to see if he can give me some answers.

Oct 28, 2016my 9 month old too

by: Anonymous

thank goodness my 9-month-old baby hits her head on the right side repeatedly and is up a bunch of times at night she seems okay during day but does hit her head during day time too.. I am thinking it is teething
so glad others are having same issue

Nov 13, 2016hitting herself in the head whileeating

by: Liz

My daughter is 5 and 1/2 months old and has been hitting herself in the head while she eats (a bottle) for several weeks now. She hits herself pretty hard. I try to catch her arm or put my hand on her head so she hits my hand instead. I can’t figure out why she started but am hoping she’ll stop. Glad to see she’s not abnormal.

Dec 02, 2016‘Naughty’

by: Anonymous

My 15 month old just started doing this also. But even weirder is that every time we read Goldilocks and it says “Naughty Goldilocks …’ she does it. We have never smacked her or threatened it and she is an only child who stays at home with me full time so has had no exposure to an kind of violence from other toddlers. The only thing i can think of is that when she falls and hurts herself we say jokingly “Naughty floor/wall/whatever she hurt herself on” and give it a hit. It was meant to be a joke but now I’m feeling like I’ve instilled a hitting habit in her. Oh well i guess I’ve learnt a lesson…:-(

Dec 10, 2016Add me to the list!
by: Anonymous
My 5-1/2-month-old just started doing this too. I was afraid he had “issues”. It’s always when nursing, and I think when he’s tired also. If I try to stop his arm or block it, he’ll stop nursing and fuss until I let him do it again. So now I just let him go. He’s also teething, so everything above adds up. I’ll still ask the pediatrician about it at his 6 mo appt just in case.

Jan 01, 2017Punches her stomach
by: Anonymous
My 5 month old daughter always punches her stomach on her left side. it sounds like she’s really hurting herself but she never cries. it happens when we change her diaper or are changing her clothes. i think she’s trying to figure out all her little muscles.

Jan 25, 2017THANK GOD…I am not alone
by: Sunshine
My daughter is 5 months, she began having seizures when she was barely 2 months old. She was diagnosed with Focal Onset Seizures in the right parietal lobe. She began hitting herself in the head with her hand during feeding, being tired, or just frustrated about 4 months. I honestly thought it was due to the medications they have her on to control her seizures. I see the neurologist this week and will ask more questions regarding this behavior, it concerns me a great deal due to her medical history.

Jan 28, 2017Follow-up on Sunshine’s post
by: Anonymous
Hi Sunshine,
Were you able to get any further information from the neurologist regarding the baby hitting herself in the head? I’m curious to see what a medical professional thinks because my daughter does the same thing.
Please post to let me know.

Feb 16, 20176 month old doing same thing!

by: Anonymous

My 6-month-old daughter has been hitting herself in the head now for about a month when she is feeding and getting ready to go to sleep. As a younger baby, she would hit herself with a closed fist in the stomach during these times. I am really relieved to see that so many of you are seeing the same thing and at the same age, too! I wasn’t worried about autism or anything silly like that (I am a special education teacher so we have extensive education ourselves in what those symptoms look like). However, it can be disturbing to see bc she gives herself quite the blow. We have a ton of slobber which may be the whole teething thing kicking in.


by: LMansfield

My son has been doing this for many months now. I thought he would grow out of it by now. He also likes to “head butt” when he is sleepy. We tell him “NO -NO”, then he gets mad and starts hitting his own head. I try to put his hand/fist down when he does this, sometimes it works.

Feb 24, 2017Super happy to know she’s not the only one

by: Anonymous

My daughter is 6mounths an she just started doing it just like one of the other moms only when I nurse her on the right side hits her head I would have to hold her arm because she hits hard it worrys me.

Mar 07, 2017Yes! My baby is not crazy!

by: Sonja

My girl just turned seven months and I noticed she just started hitting herself on the left side of her head. She does seem to do it when she’s tired or unstimulated. I’m so happy she is not the only one. Now I won’t worry about it anymore.

Mar 09, 2017left side hitting his head
by: Vicky E.
OMG, My son starting doing this too at 9 months old. (Just lst week ago) I asked the Dr she didn’t know. I was and still am a bit worried. What if there is something wrong and he is trying to tell me? Hopefull,y it is teeth or tiredness

Mar 30, 2017Mine to

by: FirstTimeDaddy

My little guy is 6 months old and has been hitting his head now for about a few weeks. However, he hits his legs his mouth his cheek and his ear lol. We were concerned as well but our dr. Said he is doing great. The fact that he is teething leads us to believe that is part of it as well as he is tired dice that is when he does it the most. But as I always do and say when it comes to your little ones never take chances and alway call the dr. ;)

Apr 01, 2017Head hitting

by: Chloe’s mom

My 5 mth old baby used to hit me during breastfeeding. Now that we have started on formulas, she has been hitting her bottle during feeding. And the last few days, she has started hitting her own face. That’s when i got worried.. Reading all your posts kinda comforted me but i am still wondering if this self beating (especially on the head) is harmful for them? Does anyone has any info from the doctors? Otherwise, my LO is fit and healthy. She just does this frantic thumb sucking and head hitting when she’s tired or feeding… strange.

Aug 04, 2017My baby is two now since she was 4 months she’s been hitting her head

by: Anonymous

Doctors never know. My daughter is making me worried a lot from hitting her head to pulling her hair. I wonder what that means? All I know since she was born she had sleeping problem but now she’s ok but would’nt stop hitting her head. Very worrying. I’m thinking to see the phycologist but I heard they are no better than doctors.

Comment by EasyBabyLife: Unless your baby slaps her head throughout the day for no appearant reason and seems to be missing her milestones, you probably don’t have to worry. What she does is common, and likely to level off within a year. Read about why babies hit themselves and what to do about it in this thread.

Aug 28, 2017Relief

by: Anonymous

I am happy to know other babies do this. My 13 month old has been hitting her head when she gets angry or tired for about 3 weeks an I was worried.

Sep 28, 2017Relieved
by: Monique
My 10 month old hits himself in the head but it’s only when he’s tired and usually when he actually starts falling asleep. I’m glad to know he’s not the only one and it seems pretty normal.

My mother (who is Ms. Doom and Gloom) gets so worried over every little thing and it actually didn’t seem too abnormal to me only because to this day I shake my leg when I get sleepy but I just wanted to be sure.

Oct 20, 2017Hits herself in the head when she’s tired

by: Anonymous

My 9 month old daughter has just started doing this when she’s tired and fighting sleep. She is also teething…… apparently its normal.

Oct 22, 2017So relieved to see how many of us are in the same boat!
by: Anonymous
Hi everyone! Our 9 month old son has started doing this within the last month, the trend is the same…tired. What a relief to know how many of us neurotic, panicking parents there are! LOL. Sounds like our kids are alright, let’s hang in there and just help protect those beautiful heads of theirs! xo

Nov 07, 2017hitting her head very hard!

by: Tatianna

My six month old hits her head very hard with a solid fist! It’s been happening for two months now. And it only happens when she’s going to sleep or having her bottle. She does it with her left hand and on the left side of her face. It got really red today and thats why I finally decided to look it up. The doctor said it’s probably from teething but I don’t know. I feel much better to see thats its kinda normal for them when they’re either tired or feeding.

Dec 20, 2017baby hits his head when falling asleep
by: Anonymous
Oh good…it sounds like its pretty normal. My 6-month-old does this too but only when he’s overly tired, teething or doesn’t have something in his hand. I’ve found that giving him a corner of a blanket or a small stuffed animal stops him from hitting. I’ve heard its only because they don’t know how to just stop their bodies. As adults when we’re exhausted we lay down and breathe out a sigh of relief, babies don’t know to do that yet. I’ve watched my little guy just shake his blanket instead of hitting so this could be a solution for some…they may just need an outlet to get rid of the extra energy.

Jan 06, 2018Hits right side of head

by: Anonymous

Glad to know my baby is not the only one to do this. He stopped for a few months but has started again just recently. I think he is tired and he is teething more too by the way he is chewing everything in sight.

Feb 06, 2018Concerned mom
by: Anonymous
I’m so glad I’m not the only one out there with concerns my daughter is 6 months old and hits herself in the head when she Is tired and drinking her bottle I was very worried that maybe something was wrong with her she also rocks back and forth a lot which worries me to she does it most of the time even in her high chair when I’m feeding her and is getting nose bleeds now when she sleeps too

Feb 13, 2018thank you
by: Anonymous
My 6-month-old son also does this I cam distract him and get him to stop though if I hold his hand it seems to calm him as well. I hope this helps someone else if they have or cont. to have this problem. Thank you for all your help it is hard to watch this behavior.

May 19, 2018Hit her head
by: Anonymous
My Baby is 4 months and she does the same thing I thought it was because she may have water in her ear from bathing.

Aug 13, 2018what?

by: Anonymous

So does mine, but he started wayyyy before teething ever kicked in. I noticed it when he was drinking down the bottle and getting sleepy and trying to stay awake…..kinda like when adults eat and get sleepy, but we are able to walk around or tap our faces to try to stay awake. I just figured he was at least aware of where his thinking was coming from – and this was just his way of trying to stay awake.

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Rachel

    My baby has been hitting herself on the head (and hard!) while drinking her bottle, especially she’s tired and ready to go to sleep. I mentioned it to her pediatrician and she wasn’t concerned. She’s 9 months old now and has been doing it for a few months. I usually try to catch her hands so she hits my hands instead of her head.

  2. Relieved

    Thank God mine isn’t the only one. My 5 month old daughter does this too and it worries me bad. She only does it when she nurses and most of those times she is extremely tired. I hope she stops soon.

  3. Riley's mommy

    OMG, you do not know how happy I am to hear that your babies do this too! My daughter is 5 months old and has done this for over a month now when she is trying to fall asleep! It’s really scary! I hope she grows out of it!!!

  4. boymom

    My son does it too. I think his arm may have nowhere comfy to fall and he discovered bonking his head with it? Or maybe its from my coffee drinking or from my meds??

  5. Mae

    My daughter is 4 months old and hits herself in the head when she is going to sleep these days…Had me worried to, but it seems to be pretty common.

  6. Linn

    When I nurse my seven month old daughter, she starts hitting herself on the left side of her head, pretty hard. She is my third child and the only one who has done this. I am hoping it will stop soon, she’s been doing this now for about two weeks. My doctor thinks it could be pain from teething.

  7. hope so

    My child is 11 months old and is still doing it so i hope that it’s normal.

  8. Ann

    My baby is 5 months old and hits herself in the head…. DRIVES ME NUTS!! I feel bad and that something is wrong…. I have read it is normal and I just hope it stops soon! Who knows maybe she is “special” Let’s hope not and move on!

  9. lizzy

    My daughter just woke up an hour ago and she started hitting the side of her head,she is 8 months old .am scared cos this is her first time doing this

    1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

      It could be her ear, throat or teething. Or she just does it to soothe herself. Watch for signs of illness and teething and maybe also take her temperature.

      Good luck,

  10. Kat

    I’m so glad to hear its normal my 14 month old only seems to do it at bed time but he hits the from of his head I didn’t know If it was from being sleepy or if it was because of his teething but either way it really concerned me. it just looks painful :-(

  11. Kelly

    My baby is 7 weeks old and he’s hitting himself when he’s tired. I notice other babies engaging in this behaviour are older. Should I be worried?

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