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sarahsugs's avatar

How to stop my toddler from head-banging in her crib?

Asked by sarahsugs (2888 points ) November 12th, 2012

My 2-year-old has been a head-banger for most of the last year. When half-awake she rocks on her knees and bangs her head against the side of her crib repeatedly. It can go on from anywhere for a few seconds to half an hour or more. This is annoying for two main reasons: 1) it is noisy and keeps us awake. 2) It makes her hair a rat’s nest and impossible to brush. You can only imagine the hair-brushing wars we have at our house. I have shed actual tears over this. Her pediatrician says that though annoying, it is nothing to worry about and she will grow out of it. I have tried waking her up and resettling her with a reprise of the bedtime routine. It seemed to work for a couple nights, but now she is teething and the banging is back worse than ever. Any experience with this? Ideas? Help!

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14 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I would pad the crib parts she’s banging on. I more worried about her hurting herself. I’ve never seen this before.
Edit, Is she related to Angus Young?

creative1's avatar

My sister was a rocker as a baby, so much so she would rock her crib infront of the door where to get in she had to move the crib to get in. We always knew when she was in the car because it would feel like it was going back and forth while your going down the road. The good news is she did grow out of it.

Now getting to the rats nest of hair, my youngest daughter same issue with her hair what I did to stop the daily untangling of hair was I cut it all off when she was just 1. Now at 3 her hair has grown in quite well and it saved all the feeling bad trying to untangle it. There are so many toddlers with barely any hair that it really didn’t matter it was very short.

bkcunningham's avatar

@sarahsugs, since you mention your daughter’s pediatrician, I’m going to presume she has been checked for autism. What teeth is she getting in at this age? Do you think she is doing it because of the pain from the teething? Does she seem rested?

SpatzieLover's avatar

I was going to ask the same as @bkcunningham was @sarahsugs. I have a son with autism, and a husband with autism. Husband rocked on his knees as a baby, but outgrew rocking/bumping & banging into things. My son is 7, and still rocks, hums and likes to bang the back of his head on chairs in our home.

For the teething, I’d give Ibuprofen and offer teethers. For the banging, I’d check to make certain this isn’t a sign of something else.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@sarahsugs I give my nephew a cold wash cloth or vanilla ice cream for teething.

JLeslie's avatar

The questions that pop into my mind are is your baby held a lot. I seem to remember children who are not held enough, rock themselves to soothe themselves, but it is out of deprevation, it isn’t a good thing, it is a sign of something essential missing.

I would also be curious about what @bkcunningham and @SpatzieLover mentioned.

It also could be a disruption in brain waves during sleep. From what I understand there is not really a such thing as half awake, one is either awake or not. But, I guess you mean she is very groggy, or maybe asleep, but blinks open her eyes at times? I just did a sleep study and it was very interesting what little I talked about with the woman who set me up for the study. The brain wave patterns of people who kick during the night, or who have night terrors. Sometimes they have apnea, and the stop of respiration causes the outward symptoms. She didn’t explain why they think it is so, but all I can figure is the loss of oxygen causes nightmares maybe? Maybe her behavior is similar to sleep walking? I’m really not sure. Anyway, the results of my test was I have Alpha intrusion during my sleep. Alpha waves are supposed to be seen when someone closes their eyes but are awake. It is seen in narcoleptics and people with reumatological problems like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, the conditions have chronic pain in common, but they really don’t know the connection between the brain waves and the ailments. Maybe there is some sort of sleep disturbance with your baby that she very well might grow out of? Since people cycle through stages of sleep about every hour and a half. Probably with eavh sleep cycle there is the risk she will go through whatever it is that prompts the problem. That is, if I am on to something, I might be completely wrong.

sarahsugs's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes, I have a bumper in her crib. Her doctor says children rarely hurt themselves doing this, thank goodness.

@creative1 Yes you describe it exactly! Sometimes we go in in the morning and her crib is half way across the room. I am certainly considering cutting off all her hair very soon.

@bkcunningham and @SpatzieLover Yes when this banging first started I brought up autism with her doctor right away. She had no signs of autism then (about a year ago) and still doesn’t now. She doesn’t do any rocking/banging/etc. during the day, just in the wee hours of the night. She’s cutting her 2-year molars now, which probably is painful I would imagine. She certainly does not seem rested on the nights when she has been up banging.

@JLeslie She has been and still is held and cuddled a lot, though frankly at age 2 most of the time she would rather be running around! Yes, I think it does have something to do with sleep cycles, in that she does the head-banging during lighter stages of sleep.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, you mentioning the teething again reminded me that the sleep disturbance I mentioned is seen in chronic pain patients, so the teething does make logical sense that she might have an unusual sleep disturbance that maybe is not the same as waking from pain, but some other state. It’s all very interesting, I know very little about it. I am just starting to read up on all of it myself.

If she is moving the crib across the floor maybe she is trying to get your attention? Does that prompt you to go into her room? The noise from the crib scooting across the floor? My husband used to rock to move his crib across the floor, move it next to his mom’s bed and climb over the side. LOL. So clever. He only did it once, well twice. One day she put him into the crib, and next thing she knew he is was out walking around in the other part of the house where she was. She found the crib next her bed. She moved the crib back to its normal place, put him in, and semi closed the door and watched. That’s how she learned what he had done.

sarahsugs's avatar

@JLeslie Ha ha, kids think of everything. No I don’t think it’s for our attention because she is so much in a sleep state when she is doing it. When she does want our attention she calls out from her crib very assertively! She sleeps in her own room so the moving across the floor is just a by product of the banging. The noise comes from the crib scooting across the floor or knocking against the wall, depending on the direction she is lying. We now have exercise mats standing on end between her crib and the wall to try to reduce the noise and the damage to the wall.

Add this to the list of things I never in a million years would have predicted I would be worrying about before becoming a parent!

rojo's avatar

I do not know if this is PC anymore but I recall my mother telling me she used to rub Irish Whisky on our teeth and gums when we were having teething problems; a little trick she got from her mum; who got it from hers, etc. Thinking now, depending on how much she used, it probably helped us sleep as well.

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Cupcake's avatar

I was just checking out amber necklaces in my local cloth-diaper-earthy-crunchy-parenting store. According to the store owner and her employee, they really can help relieve pain and swelling. You might want to try one.

Please cut her hair. No hair is worth tears, especially over an acceptable developmental issue.

I know you’ve talked to your pediatrician about this. You may want to call the office for suggestions on how to deal with it. The nurses (as well as the pediatrician) at my pediatric office are SO helpful and encouraging.

Do you get together with parents of kids around the same age? If not, you may want to join a group or make a few play dates. I think sometimes it’s beyond helpful just to have someone to talk to and know that you’re not alone.

creative1's avatar

If your having issues with teething a natural numbing thing is ground cloves, you can even use it on your own mouth if you have a tooth ache.

rosiemiao's avatar

I would keep an eye on her, especially when she starts school. I, myself, had the same problem since I was old enough to sit up – rocked the crib across the room. Rocked until the hair was off the back of my head, I’m told. Rocked in the car. “She’ll grow out of it” they said. I never did. I ranked quite high in intelligence, however did have difficulty staying organized, keeping track of dates & times, a little difficulty with social interactions. However back then (long time ago) there was no testing. I floundered through life. In 1990 a psychiatrist ordered an MRI because he suspected space taking lesions in the brain because I was having some memory problems. Unfortunately he died before I could have that done, and shortly thereafter I was thrown into the world of “mental health” which back then meant institutionalized. A decade later I was on my own again and kept life simple and did well. Unfortunately in 1998 I had a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage (sp) but survived it and did well again. But again started having memory problems, difficulty at work (although I was the top employee in my company), etc…. finally after an MRI they’ve determined there is a pre frontal cortex abnormality (born with it) which impairs executive functioning (have had problems since I was a kid but it was written off to “lazy” or “unmotivated” or could only do well if I “applied myself”) as well as some lesions in the brain. They’re thinking perhaps given my year of birth it may have been a forceps delivery – who knows. But please, keep an eye on her – I would love to spare her the life I had if we can! At some point perhaps look into Neuro-Cognitive testing of some sort. Good luck!

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