"Headbanging" "Baby headbangs" "Baby bangs head in sleep" "Why does baby headbang?"

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Hello! You might be reading this post because you Googled one of the phrases above. Let me get right to it: I do not have any information as to why your baby headbangs. But I wanted you to at least have one Google result that did not imply that your baby's headbanging is a sure sign of autism.

First of all, you should know that if you Google anything with a question about why your kid does the nutty things he or she does, it's a sure sign of autism. I Googled "baby snores" when my son was a few days old and Dr. Google told me it definitely meant autism or maybe just severe A.D.D.

Twice in the last two weeks I've had babysitters text me while I was out because even though I warned them that our son headbangs, they didn't realize how much and how severely he does it. (For those who don't have kids or whose kids just go to sleep and stay that way, headbanging is a soothing technique that some kids do, where, for some reason, banging their heads against their mattress or crib wall makes them feel better, pass the time, or get back to sleep.) It sounds like there's a dance party with a loud thumping bass going on in his crib (which is really fun at 4 AM). He headbangs so hard he sometimes gets scabs on his head.

But, the doctor says that there's nothing we can do. We can't put bumpers in there because he'll just use those to climb out. We tried tying bedsheets around the sides of the crib but somehow in his sleep he just raised his head up to bang his head above the area where the sheet was tied. In the middle of the night we pull him away from the side of the crib and give him a pacifier and he still scootches up to the side of the crib and bangs away. Then, last night, I tried buffering both sides of the crib by placing a pillow at each end. Ten minutes after lights out, I heard the thumping again, came up and saw this:

pillows.JPGI mean, he clearly likes doing it for some reason. But that doesn't make it less disturbing, literally or figuratively. It's hard to say what stinks most about it. Probably the part where we wake up all the time. The scabby head also just makes us all look bad (him aesthetically, us from a well-being point of view.) And then there's the never-ending worry that maybe it really is a sign that his head is full of demons that he has to smash or something.

But, no. Our pediatrician says, "If it bothers him, he'll stop doing it," (which is why I like her), and my friend Lauren, who graduated first in her class in med school, said "I headbanged until I was 8 and I loved it!" (Bless her--when Paul was born, too, and barely weighed six pounds, she said "I weighed four and a half pounds when I was born and look at me now!")

So I wish I had something helpful to tell you about why your baby headbangs, something insightful or reassuring or an idea of when it will end (it could be 2 or it could be 8! I had one friend whose college boyfriend sometimes did it.) But hey, at least you now know you're not alone and you're at least not reading something that's telling you your kid is definitely not normal. I mean, your kid is probably insane in some say--mine certainly is, in at least twelve ways--but it's not due to headbanging.