When you bring baby home for the first time, you might learn that head banging isn’t just for heavy metal concerts. Head banging is actually a relatively common behavior in newborn babies. If you had a baby boy, he is three times more likely to do some sort of head banging than a girl. While head banging might seem violent and harmful to your baby’s health, it’s actually a self-comforting behavior no different than the other common behavior of rocking back and forth. Twenty percent of babies bang their head against their crib or any nearby object. In some cases, they’ll just roll their heads back and forth rhythmically.

If your baby is head banging, there is no need to panic. First, you can try making his or her sleeping arrangement more comfortable so that relaxation is easier. Often, this behavior is a sign that they are not adjusted to life outside the womb yet. Making life more soothing in general is the best way to combat the behavior. If this doesn’t help, then your baby is probably banging his head to distract himself from other pain. You should bring your baby to a pediatrician in this case because he could have some type of infection you didn’t know about. Teething is a common cause of head banging in babies who are otherwise comfortable with their surroundings.

You’ll probably want to stop the behavior once you see it, but it’s actually okay to let it pass on its own. Most babies will outgrow the behavior by the age of three, and it can’t cause any real harm or damage. Your baby simply does not have the muscle or strength to hit his head with any real force. Once you’ve confirmed with your doctor that there is no real problem behind your baby’s head banging habit, you can rest easy knowing that it will pass with age. If you can’t rest at all amidst the sounds of banging, you could move the crib into the center of the room so that the sounds don’t resonate on the walls.

It’s normal to be worried about your baby’s strange head banging behavior, but remember that it’s just one of the many ways he will comfort himself in his difficult new lifestyle in the real world. At least you can assume your baby will someday be a metal guitarist with a major stage presence.

Source: Armando Favazza: Self-Injurious Behavior. Human Haptic Perception Basics and Application Volume 4 pp. 313-319 2008

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