Cause of Head Banging in Infants

Patient

Q: My son of 11 months old tenses up on occasion and soon afterwards bangs his forehead against anything that is in front of him. This happens a few times a day. Thanks Stones

Doctor

A:   Head banging is surprisingly common. Up to 20 percent of babies and toddlers bang their head on purpose, although boys are three times more likely to do it than girls. Head banging often starts in the second half of the first year and peaks between 18 and 24 months of age. There are many theories to explain the behavior. Possible reasons include that it's a process by which infants self-comfort themselves. Head banging may also be present if your son has an infection of the ear or from teething. If your toddler bangs his heaherd during temper tantrums, he's probably trying to vent some strong emotions. Head banging may also be a sign that your son needs attention. And lastly head banging can be associated with autism and other developmental disorders. However autism will present with other features such as lack of pointing, lack of gaze-following and lack of pretend play.Most children will outgrow the habit on their own. When you notice his head banging, you might be able to get him to stop for the moment by distracting him or engaging him in a different activity.

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