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Head Banging to Sleep


Today I want to discuss the habit of head banging, while falling asleep, in babies. While this is not a very common problem it is not rare either. However if you are the parent of a child who has the habit of head banging it can seem rather painful and sometimes scary to watch.

What is it??

Head banging is a behavior where there child repeatedly hits his head against their mattress, pillow, crib, headboard, or sometimes even a wall when they are trying to fall asleep. This can often be troubling for parents to watch but in reality this rhythmic soothing motion it is a natural way for your child to relax and soothe into sleep.

What age can it happen?

Children may develop this habit time after 6 months of age. Most children will outgrow the habit by the time they are 2-3 years of age. A small number may continue the habit till they are nearly 5 years of age.

How long does it last?

Each episodes of head banging can last for upto 15 minutes. Understandably this can be troubling for a parent to watch especially if their child is banging against a hard surface. However as parents it is best to not focus on this behavior too much. In fact many parents try very hard to stop the child from doing this but will often fail and may land up irritating and annoying the child. If your child bangs against a hard object like the crib sides or wall, you can try to pad up the surface with pillows or other such objects that can cushion the child’s head.

Should you be worried?

In general, if your child is otherwise healthy, and uses head banging as a way to fall asleep then you don’t have to be concerned about this behavior. However if your child uses head banging at other times of the day, then your child may be using it as an attention seeking mechanism. In which case you may want to work on keeping your child focused of creative and challenging activities and spending quality time with your child at frequent intervals during the day. But if that also doesn’t help then it may be an indicator of some other deeper problem and in such cases you may want to discuss this further with your pediatrician. Some of the indicators that your child’s head banging habit may be worthy of concern are:

-       The habit is causing physical injury to the child but the child is unable to stop himself.

-       Your child displays other sleep disorders like sleep-apnea. 

-       You have concerns that your child’s development is not at par.

-       You suspect/know that your child has seizures.


Do you need more help with your childs sleep or food habits? Contact me and see how I can help you!