My Toddler Bangs Their Head: What Do I Do and Why Does It Happen?

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Toddler Bangs Head

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Toddlers banging their heads on the floor can be upsetting and at the same time surprising for parents to see. In most of these cases, toddlers banging heads is occasional and nothing to worry about as it is most likely to be a sign of self-stimulation or self-comfort. It could also be that your toddler bangs his head when angry.

Once you notice that your toddler is banging their heads, the best thing to do is go to them and be a comfort to them. Ask them what is upsetting them and protect them from any possible injury. Do not make a big deal out of it or scold them for their behavior (which is what most parents do).

Even though toddlers banging their heads is a common thing and usually, there is nothing to be concerned about, it could be a sign of developmental issues in some children. Check if your child is showing signs of developmental delay or other abnormal social interactions along with banging their head. If so, take them to a doctor asap.

What is Headbanging?

  • Headbanging or body rocking are rhythmic movements that usually happen at the same time.
  • It could be repetitive headbanging or repetitive rocking of the whole body.
  • Typically, toddlers tend to bang their heads when they are face down on a mattress or a pillow. If they are in an upright position, then they tend to bang their heads against the headboard.
  • These rhythmic movements may at times be combined with humming or any other vocal sounds.
  • Your toddler will eventually stop banging their heads when they fall asleep or when they get distracted.

Toddler Bangs Their Head: 5 Reasons

Most of the toddlers bang their heads on purpose. This behavior usually starts during the second half of their 1st year and may continue for months at a stretch or even for years. However, they usually outgrow this habit by the age of 3. Here are the reasons of toddlers banging their heads:

1. Self-comfort

  • Relaxation is the most common reason for toddlers banging their heads.
  • The rhythmic motion of the headbanging gives them a sense of comfort.
  • This behavior may be noticed when they are falling asleep, while they are sleeping, or when they wake up suddenly in the middle of the night.

2. Pain Relief

If your toddler is teething or having an ear infection, they may bang their heads. This, at the time, will help them distract them from the pain. So check for these culprits when you notice your toddler banging their heads on the floor.

3. Frustration

  • Toddlers have not yet learned to express their emotions through words which is why they turn to physical expressions.
  • Headbanging is one such physical expression through which they soothe themselves following a stressful event.

4. Seeking Attention

  • When your toddler bangs his head, a self-destructive behavior, you will come running to them for obvious reasons.
  • Your toddler will begin to notice this behavior of yours and know that when they repeat this activity you will repeat your behavior.
  • This realization will make them use this self-destructive behavior as an effective way to catch your attention.

5. Developmental Problem

  • Toddlers banging their heads may be a sign of developmental issues like autism.
  • However, if you do not notice any other signs of developmental delay in them and they exhibit only headbanging then you may rule out any developmental disorders.

Toddler Bangs Head: Is It a Point of Serious Concern?

  • Take notice if your toddler is healthy and is only banging their heads or rocks their body during nap time or nighttime. If this is the case, then be rest assured that your kid is doing so to help them fall asleep.
  • Body rocking or headbanging will only be considered a disorder if it regularly interferes with sleep or results in serious bodily injuries.

Toddler Bangs Head: What Do I Do?

If you notice your toddler banging their heads when they are upset, then try these few things to soothe them:

1. Give Your Toddler Attention

  • Try to give your kids loads of positive attention even if they are not banging their heads.
  • If you find out that they are banging their heads to get your attention, do try not to make it an issue. Avoid yelling at them as they are too young to understand the situation they have coughed up.
  • If you react strongly, it could reinforce their behavior and make them repeat it.

2. Protect Your Child From Potential Injury

  • Remember to fasten any bolt or screw that might have loosened up as your toddler bangs his head on the crib.
  • You could place a quilt or a blanket between the wall and the crib to reduce noise and wear and tear.
  • Do not put pillows and/or blankets inside the baby’s crib as these could pose a choking hazard.
  • You could use bumpers on the crib to soften the blow when your toddler bangs his head but make sure these bumpers are firm, thin, and securely tied to the railings of the crib.

3. Give Other Means of Rhythm

  • Toddlers usually bang their heads when they need some kind of rhythm to soothe themselves so you could try introducing them to other safe rhythms like drumming, dancing, or music.
  • Keep them engaged and join in on their fun while incorporating different activities.
  • Make sure that your toddlers have loads of physical exercises during the daytime so that all their pent-up energy has been used.

4. Create a Soothing Bedtime Routine

  • You could try to relax your toddler by making them get used to consistent bedtime routines.
  • You could introduce them to a warm bath, soft music, some stories, or rock them on your lap.
  • While your toddler is falling asleep, gently stroke their forehead or rub their back. This will make them calm.

Try Not to Worry Too Much

Toddlers banging their heads is usually a sign of self-comfort and they are usually self-regulated. Your toddler will stop once the headbanging exceeds their pain tolerance. Either they will completely stop or soften the banging on their own. So do not worry much unless you notice certain signs of developmental delays.

Toddler Bangs Head: When Should I Seek Medical Attention?

If your toddler is banging their heads a lot during the daytime or continues to do so even if they hurt their head, then it may be a cause of concern. Take them to a doctor as headbanging may be associated with autism and other developmental problems, even though it is uncommon. These issues usually become apparent during the preschool and toddler years.

The Bottom Line: Why is My Toddler Banging Their Head On The Floor?

Toddlers bang their heads to soothe themselves in stressful situations. These stressful situations may be caused by their families or by themselves too when they are unable to express themselves through words. Either way, the rhythmic movement involved in the action of headbanging causes a calming effect on babies.

To avoid this self-destructive behavior, even though they may stop as they are self-regulated, you could try calming them by rocking them on your lap, playing some soothing music, having them take a warm bath, or other such activities. If however, you notice that they are not stopping even though the activity of headbanging is injuring them, take them to a good doctor as it may be a sign of developmental issues like autism. Your doctor will be able to guide you better in that.

Toddler Bangs Head FAQs

1. Why does my toddler slap his head?

Toddlers usually hit themselves because they are annoyed with themselves. This frustration comes when they are unable to express their feelings. Toddlers may bang their heads when frustrated and it may be a natural response to smack their heads then.

2. How do I know if my toddler hit their head too hard?

Here are some signs for you to watch out for to know if your kid hit their head too hard:
  • A bruise, cut, or bump on the head
  • A visible dent where they took the blow
  • Incessant crying
  • Headache (might be difficult to point out as they may just hold their head while crying or whimpering)
  • A black-and-blue discoloration behind the ears or under the eyes
  • Irrational or aggressive behavior
  • Refusing to eat
  • Speech is slurred
  • Loss of memory
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling confused
  • Unable to balance
  • Weakness or numbness of the body
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Seizures
  • Fluid or blood leaking from nose or ears
  • Being unconsciousness
  • 3. What are the signs of concussion in toddlers?

    Here are the symptoms of concussion in children you must look out for:
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of interest in toys
  • Changing in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Excessive crying
  • Unsteady walking due to loss of balance
  • Crankiness and irritability
  • Turing easily and listlessness
  • Dazed appearance
  • 4. What to do if my toddler hit his head?

    To soothe a head injury on your child, you can apply a cold compress on the head for about 20 minutes, this will help the swelling to go down. You may also give acetaminophen to children to soothe the pain. But of course, check with your kid’s doctor before giving any medication.

    5. What are the signs of autism in babies?

    Here are some signs you could watch out for to know if your toddler has autism:
  • No or little eye contact
  • No or less responsive
  • May not look at events or objects that are being pointed to
  • May not point at events or objects
  • Won't bring in objects to show others
  • No proper facial expressions
  • Not say single words by 15 months or phrases by 24 months
  • Will not respond to name
  • Mixes up pronouns
  • No interest in communication
  • Has a good memory for letters, numbers, songs, among other things
  • Flaps hands, walks on toes, twirls fingers, spins, or rocks
  • Likes rituals, order, and routines
  • Has difficulty changing between activities
  • May not cry in pain or show signs of fear
  • Will be either extra sensitive or absolutely lack sensitivity to touch, textures, lights, sounds, or smells
  • Might have unusual gaze or vision
  • Will look at objects from unusual angles
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