Headbanging is generally a self-calming or relaxing method (the way we adults shake our legs or bite our nails to drive down stress) to a child. Research claims that this phenomenon can be witnessed among children due to attention-seeking tendencies and eliminating frustration.
Though seeing your baby bangs head on a hard surface can be terrifying, perhaps it might be just your child’s way to soothe itself (similar to thumb-sucking before going to bed). Unfortunately, the truth has another face; head banging sometimes can be an outcome of severe mental issues and is associated with the implicit fear of Autism.
To determine the actual situation, as a parent, you need to know the ins and outs (symptoms, cause, and preventions); the sooner, the better. The whole condition is discussed in a bigger picture in this content; if you have minutes to spare, be with us (it’s for your child’s welfare)
The Initial Concept: What is Head Banging?
In easier words, this is a rhythmic movement disorder, seen mostly in babies and toddlers. Usually, children are rocked in the mother’s womb as well, and later, parents carry them in their arms and tend to rock them. Babies find joy in such movements; Headbanging is merely a continual process for children to seek the same satisfaction through movements in medical terms known as a kinesthetic drive.
It is also classified as a type of sleep disorder (parasomnia) similar to Sleepwalking. Another neurological issue, rhythmic movement disorder (moves large muscle groups frequently and reluctantly), is associated with headbanging.
Is Head Banging Normal?
Research says headbanging is normal until it does not risk or affect your children, at least the percentage depicts so; as per reports, 20% of the babies bang their heads. It may start from between 6 to 9 months of age and continue till five years.
Arguably the ratio is the same in both boys and girls.
But the scene turns dark if this is related to any developmental problem. If your kid bangs head frequently or injure themselves severely, there must be reasons to fear. Children with other health concerns like autism spectrum disorder, blindness, development delay, and neurological problems should be supervised thoroughly.
Symptoms: What are The Common Signs of Head Banging?
Kids may bang heads in different manners, but as parents, you must be aware of the common symptoms.
- While facing down the bed, children slam the head to the mattress or pillow or bed.
- They may hit head to walls, cribs and bed stand or any hard object in an upright position and develop bald spots.
- A child may roll the body side to side and hit the head to the crib railings.
- Headbanging can be associated with the head rolling, body rocking or rolling, leg shaking, and humming or moaning.
- Body rocking happens in such a manner that the child goes on their knees and goes so low that they bang head to the floor back and forth.
- All these come in episodes of the highest 15 minutes or less.
Let’s Dive Into The Hypothesis: What are the Potential Causes behind Your Babies and Toddlers Banging Their Heads?
Knowing why your child bangs head can be half of the solution to the problem, and it is necessary to settle your nerves. There can be several explanations, from genetic disorders to some common factors. The following segment covers some of the medically reviewed causes behind toddlers banging their head; check it out.
Self-Comforting/ Self Soothing Technique
Odd, but children sometimes get pleasure from systematic movements and can relax or soothe themselves to a certain extent. Kinesthetic drive refers to the idea of feeling comfortable or cozy due to movements like headbanging, rolling, body rocking and thumb sucking, and so on.
Some parents also pat their children back in a rhythmic manner before Sleep; this process keeps them calm. The same goes for headbanging or body rocking; they find comfort and ease. That is why a child bangs his head before sleeping or in the middle of Sleep.
Sleep Correlated Rhythmic Movement Disorder
As some children tend to soothe themselves by banging their head, it can occur increasingly at night before sleep time. Children can embrace this habit or any other sleep-related rhythmic action to make them comfortable to sleep.
Even maybe you have developed a sleep-related rhythmic activity for your children without knowing it particularly. Yes, I am saying about all the back-patting, rocking, carrying your child, and walking before Sleep. Even between Sleep, when your child wakes up, you tend to thump them rhythmically.
Banging head before sleeping refers to the Sleep-related rhythmic movement disorder; it usually outgrows with age.
Nothing to worry about.
An Expression to Seek Attention
Infants cannot use language to express themselves, and in most cases, even toddlers fail to express themselves appropriately. Under the circumstances, most of them initiate to go extreme and bang their head to be noticeable to the parents.
It even turns alarming if this habit develops in a child as a medium to communicate or to seek attention. It can lead to severe self-harming tendency from an early age. Though preventing a Child’s Headbanging from being noticed is quite tricky, we have cracked how to know more stick follow the solution section below.
Caution: Parents anyhow should prevent this habit of seeking attention through self-harming from their children.
Developmental Disorder or Abnormalities
Though head banging is usually basic, but it can be due to developmental abnormalities as well.
If banging the head occurs only around sleep time, this can be considered a rhythmic disorder. But in case, it frequently occurs apart from sleeping hours; there can be any developmental issues.
Children with Autism have the tendency to bang heads; even other health issues as speech delays, late physical or mental development, emotional outbursts, insufficient social interactions, and other mental or psychological problems can be related to this.
An Outcome of Frustration or Anxiety
Headbanging also appears when a child fails to express frustration or anxiety verbally. Also associated with children’s temper tantrums, headbanging is often a medium to express any emotional frustration. It might be a comforting way for your child to let you know if anything disgusts or frustrates them.
Physical discomfort can lead your children to bang heads.
Physical pain is not visible, and your child cannot communicate with you through words that can cause headbanging. Ear infection, teething, or any invisible discomfort can lead children to bang their heads. They use this to distract themselves from the pain or discomfort.
Research The Solutions: What Preventive Actions Should You Take To Stop Head Banging Of Your Children As a Parent?
Pass Over the Whole Episode
Though unbearable as parents, the first and foremost thing would be to ignore the banging part. Even if there are bald spots or a couple of bruises, be firm and don’t intervene. If your children notice you are not paying any heed to this self-regulating behavior, they will stop doing this eventually by themselves.
Usually, attention-seeking plays a significant role in toddlers‘ head slamming; the best way to prevent this is not paying any attention. Do no compensate them for stopping this behavior at any cost; let them understand it does not affect you and the rest (recovery) is magic.
Do not Foster Self Harming
If your child finds out all these Head hitting or body rocking things affect you, it won’t stop easily. They will keep on harming themselves. Until it does not risk severe injury, do not pamper them in avoidable injuries.
While they bang head, try to ignore and once they stop, tell them strictly not to do this again. Remember, it solely depends on you how you handle your children. But above all, be gentle with them.
Re- Assemble the Crib
If the crib is placed anywhere around the wall, first things first, move the crib away so that toddlers cannot bang heads on the wall. It also eliminates the Headbanging noise. Again, to stop any severe injury, the crib walls must be covered with soft pillows.
Check the crib handle’s bolts and screws regularly as the continuous body rocking can loosen the joints.
Caution: While putting pillows and blankets in the crib, parents must follow the national safety standards to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It applies to children under 12 months of age.
Healthy Bedtime Routine
If you notice your child uses headbanging to self-calm before sleeping at night, substitute this routine with other options. You can sing a lullaby, recite a poem, tell bedtime stories, or play any soft music to your children before going to bed. Or a warm bath (unless there is any risk of health issues), causal rock in the lap, dim and soothing light can create a comfortable atmosphere for children to sleep.
Convert Your Child’s Fascination for Rhythm to Other Options
If your toddler is prone to headbanging, that means he/she has a taste for steady beats. You can easily convert this interest for beats to any other options. Toy bongo drums can be an excellent thing for your kid to enjoy an alternative option. Clapping or dancing to music or age-appropriate physical exercise can transform his energies to other alternatives.
Turn Everything Baby Proof to Ward off the Injuries
The whole house should be baby-proofed to save your kid from any further or severe head injuries. Swipe away any pointy or sharp belongings from the house so that even if your child slams head to anything, it does not hurt to a dangerous extent.
Again rigid walls can be covered with soft pillows at least to a certain height (toddlers cannot bang heads to higher altitudes). A soft rug on the floor will surely pay off to protect your child from injury.
Keep Them Busy
Banging head before bedtime or even at other times of the day refers to your children’s unused energy or nervous energy. In such cases, keep them busy with physical or outdoor activities throughout the day.
Take them to the park or play with them for the time being to tire them healthily.
Gift Your Children Your Precious Time
Last but not least, and even the most crucial process is to give your toddler sufficient time. Please don’t make them feel lonely, or don’t let them feel to perform such actions as head banging or body rocking to get your attention. Spend as much time as you can with your children and let their mental health grow well.
Nothing else can be more soothing than witnessing your kid growing up, can anything?
Diagnose When Head Banging Is Not Benign Anymore: When to See a Doctor?
Though experts labeled this habit normal yet medical science urges us to go for further diagnosis. At any moment, this behavior can be severe and should be medically reviewed by a pediatrician.
- Headbanging is associated with sleep apnea, sleepwalking at night, head rolling in toddlers.
- Potential harm, injury, continuous bruising
- Sleep delay, clumsiness, less control over the overall body.
- The excessive tendency of sleeping in both day and night
- If your children show any other developmental delay or other disorders, in such cases, get your kid reviewed by a doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is headbanging a sign of Autism?
Though head banging is a common sight among children, it is also a sign of Autism.
When should I worry about my baby banging her head?
Suppose the headbanging accompanies other symptoms such as continuous head rolling, vomiting, head injury, or other disorders. In such conditions, must consult with a doctor.
Why does my nine-month-old keep banging his head?
Babies or toddlers usually bang their heads during bedtime to self soothe themselves, seek attention, and any other health concerns.
What should I do if my baby hits his head in the crib?
To prevent injury, one can put soft blankets or pillows around it.
The final verdict goes that banging or slamming the head is quite a normal and harmless thing among children. If this behavior does not associate with any further health concerns, there is nothing to worry about.
If the banging does not stop within the time frame (6 months of age to 5 years) or shows symptoms of other health factors, then it can be medically reviewed. Otherwise, it is a non-threatening process.