|I have no idea what to do about the fact that my baby bangs
his head on the side of the cot when he is sleepy. I find
it so alarming and don’t have the courage to ask my
doctor, in case it’s something very bad. How bad is
No one is really sure what causes some babies to bang their
heads. It is thought that it may be a way for baby to deal
with stress and tension. So that is why it is more prevalent
at bedtime, because the stress that the baby is feeling
is causing the baby to struggle to get to sleep. In fact,
this behaviour falls well within the normal spectrum as
long as the baby is not injuring himself, or showing aggression
in general. However, if your baby is often miserable, hard
to console, and spends excessive amounts of time engrossed
in head banging, then you should speak to your doctor.
It is not a good idea to pay too much attention to this
behaviour as you do not want it to become an attention seeking
device. Since the baby is driven to do this, scolding or
punishing will not make any difference. In general, babies
give up banging by the time they are three years old, perhaps
having found other stress relief mechanisms. The other thing
to look out for is whether the banging is linked to teething.
Some babies get so miserable from the pain of teething that
they use rocking and banging in an attempt to reduce or
distract themselves from the pain.
Babies do love any repetitive movement and banging does
fall into this category. You will notice many babies spend
time just rocking on their own. So perhaps including extra
rhythmic activities in your daily games could help to reduce
the amount of head banging. Babies love to dance and play,
and so you could have lots of fun while addressing the situation.
Rocking in a rocking chair while singing, or games with
drums and xylophones are all ideas to try.
Perhaps you could try to help baby get calmer before bedtime.
Babies tend to have very active days, and you may be underestimating
the amount of winding down time he requires to get calm
enough to sleep. Include more physical contact in the day
– such as hugging and snuggling as this is very calming
for babies. Perhaps you need to increase the time of the
bedtime routine. Make sure that bathtime is calm and relaxing
and maybe include some relaxing oils in the bath. A gentle
massage after bath may be helpful. Then quiet reading time
and lost of relaxing cuddling can be enough to make baby
calm and sleepy enough to settle straight down in the cot.
It may also be worth waiting until baby is a bit sleepier
than usual before putting him down in the cot.
The vibration of banging can cause the cot to get wobbly,
so don’t forget to regularly check that the bolts
and screws are all still firm. In addition placing the cot
on a stiff solid rug can help to anchor it in place, so
that it does not move across the floor. If the cot is on
rollers, make sure they are firmly locked, or even remove
them. Although padding inside the cot will cause a softer
banging surface, it is likely that the baby will just seek
out a harder surface to bang on. It is still worth a try!
Head - control