What to Do If Your Child Has Head Banging

If your child is banging his head while in a crib, pull the crib away from the wall. Often a child will stand in the crib and bang his head on the wall. Sometimes, however, a child will bang on the crib itself.

Place the crib on a thick rug. This will reduce the noise associ­ated with the banging and immobilize the crib, making it harder for your child to rock the crib back to the wall, where he can bang some more.

Crib bumpers are controversial. They may be helpful to mini­mize head banging, but your child may use them to climb out of the crib as well. If you use crib bumpers, tie them securely to the railings. Use thin bumpers with the least amount of cushioning possible to minimize the area on which your child can climb. In general, bumpers are not recommended because the risks associ­ated with your child’s climbing out of the crib outweigh the risks associated with head banging.

Some people recommend playing rhythmic music to help mod­erate head banging. This may substitute for the banging altogether, or it may provide a slower rhythm to which the child can bang his head.

For normal head banging, the best thing you can do is to maxi­mize your child’s safety and ignore the behavior.

When does my doctor need to be involved?

Call your doctor if your child has injured himself by head banging. If the behavior is escalating and seems to be interrupting nor­mal daily activities such as sleep and play, you should speak with your doctor.

You should also speak with your doctor if you are concerned lat your child has signs of developmental delay or poor social skills. Remember, though, that head banging can appear in all types of children. It does not necessarily indicate developmental problems.

What tests need to be done, and what do the results mean?

Isolated head banging requires no testing. If there are other developmental or behavioral concerns, developmental testing lay be appropriate.

No imaging studies, such as X rays or CT scans, are necessary with head banging.

What are the treatments?

There are no medical treatments for head banging in an otherwise healthy child. In some children with neurological issues, head banging can be minimized with medication, although these cases are relatively rare.

What are the possible complications?

The most significant complication from head banging is head injury. Banging against a blunt object can cause bruising or abrasions. Although superficial injury is possible, more serious head injury (such as concussion) is nearly unheard-of.

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