Why is my baby hitting head with hand? What should I do?

baby hitting head with hand

Just when you think you’re familiar with every single mannerism that your baby displays, he or she does something new. So now, you’re wondering about your baby hitting head with hand. Where did this come? Why? Is this cause for concern?

You will learn more about reasons behind this behavior and how to address it.

Reasons that relate to young babies

For young babies, about 3 to 4 months old, this simply means that they’ve discovered their hands. At the same time, they still haven’t gained much control over hand movement. So don’t be surprised if they unintentionally hit their own heads with a rattle or some other toy.

This might sound ridiculous, but considering that during the first weeks of life, a baby can see close objects more clearly, they take a while to catch on to the fact that they have hands. So they can go from staring at their hands, to lightly tapping their faces, to trying to grasp objects. It’s simply part of their development.

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Reasons that relate to young toddlers

Once a child gets closer to the age of 10 months to a year, they become a bit more expressive of their emotions. So the reasons for baby hitting head with hand vary immensely.

However, the common underlying factors lie with their learning to verbalize their needs and wants. Depending on the situation, the reasons might include:

• Frustration

• Need for comfort or attention

• Relief for an ear or headache

• Teething

• Developmental Delay (keeping in mind, though, this action by itself is not a sign; usually it’s accompanied by other delays in milestones)

1. Frustration

Have you ever tapped yourself on the forehead or observed other people doing the same thing, particularly when something goes wrong?Well, older babies and toddlers perform a similar mannerism when things aren’t going their way. This would be a way of saying that they are angry or frustrated.

2. Pain Relief

Possibly, your baby suffers from a headache or even an earache. Since he or she still cannot verbalize their pain, the repeated tapping distracts from the discomfort. Plus the rhythmic impact serves to soothe the pain. Most importantly, this your baby’s way of letting you know that something hurts.

3. Teething

baby teething

Going back to the idea of alleviating pain, the counter pressure combined with the rhythmic impact can be a toddler’s way of massaging the jaw area. This is quite common when the last few molars come in.

4. Need for comfort or attention

At this age, children are learning how to talk. So they’re still relying on gestures and mannerisms while phasing out of the crying or laughing as sole means of communication. This might include hitting their own heads.

Therefore, if you notice your baby hitting head with hand repeatedly, then you can take that as a cue to approach and see what’s going on. They might just be bored and want to play.

5. Developmental Delay

Please do not panic. This type of behavior is accompanied by other repetitive behaviors and or other delays in fine motor skills, gross motor skills, communication, and other aspects of development. Anytime, you have questions or concerns, consult with your pediatrician who can refer you to the necessary professionals.

Ways to resolve situation of baby hitting head with hand

Ways to resolve situation of baby hitting head with hand

For an older baby or toddler who is able to grasp and hold objects, you will need to protect the baby from injury, depending on what he or she is holding. Distracting the child while gently taking the object would help.

Of course, you will also need to give your baby more attention but not necessarily when the behavior occurs. The rationale behind this is to avoid reinforcing the behavior so that it does not become a habit or a method of coping.

As you avoid reinforcement, you would also need to keep from overreacting. After all, you would not want to scare the baby. Refraining from expressing fear or frustration helps everyone involved.

Providing a playful distraction from the hitting is the best solution. Possibly, you can redirect your baby’s tapping to a toy drum or some other object to help alleviate boredom. Building in more activity, physical and mental, also serves the duo purpose of facilitating development and further building bond between you and your baby.

And above all, do not worry or panic.

The Take-away

As you well know, every baby and toddler has his or her own unique personality and develop a different at a different pace. When you see your baby hitting head with hand, remember the following:

• Do not jump to conclusions

• Gently distract your baby from the behavior

• If possible, provide an alternative

• Contact your pediatrician for any questions and concerns

Do you have some comments or stories that you would like to share? Please feel free to reach out.

Sarah Palmer

Hi! I'm Sarah. My husband and I have a beautiful little girl; plus we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby #2, so this is a very exciting time for us. Throughout this amazing journey called Parenthood, I’ve learned so much and love sharing my experiences with other parents at SarahsLovelyFamily.com. I'd love to share my discoveries with you too!

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