Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Head-Banging Continues

I mentioned a while ago that Lucas has been banging his head in his crib. I put him in his crib for naptime, he immediately starts hitting his head against the side of the crib. Bedtime, same thing. He wakes up in the middle of the night? Same thing. Wakes up from nap? Head-banging. It's obviously become a big problem, but we have taken a few steps to try and stop this behavior. I'm hoping something works soon!

Our pediatrician referred us to a child psychologist. I was hesitant to talk to her, because I knew they were going to start throwing around scary words like "autism". (Head-banging in toddlers can be an early sign of various conditions, one being autism). However, I was desperate to help Lucas to stop, so I went to see her. They had me fill out an evaluation of Lucas' behavior and skills. I knew he wasn't showing any other signs of autism, so I wasn't worried about the test results. Surprise surprise, he is within the normal range for all categories!

Once we ruled out any serious conditions, the psychologist and I started brainstorming how to stop Lucas' head-banging behavior. It has gotten so bad that he's up all hours of the night, slamming his head against the side of his crib. It worries me and keeps the entire house from getting decent rest.

For whatever reason, Lucas has come to associate being in his crib with rocking back and forth and hitting his head. It's almost like a habit he can't stop. It doesn't even seem like he's doing it to get attention because he's usually not crying for me. So the psychologist recommended we teach Lucas to associate his crib with other things by distracting him with things to look at. She suggested I put some of his favorite toys in the crib with him. I tried this, even though I knew it wouldn't work. Lucas threw out every single toy, book, and blanket I lovingly placed beside him. (See how well we have padded his crib? And it's still LOUD when he slams his head.)
Her next idea was to move Lucas' crib to another wall in his room and change everything around. Perhaps a different environment would result in different behavior. So the next day the boys and I set to work moving everything around.
The result? No change. Lucas couldn't care less about his crib being moved. He's still hitting his head all hours of the night. (Last night he was up from 12-3 doing it). Adam thinks we should try moving Lucas into a toddler bed, although I think this is a bad idea. Lucas would NOT stay in a toddler bed at this age. He's crazy! So my next plan is to move Lucas' crib into Ryan's room and see if that helps. At this point, I don't see how it can make things any worse. Neither boy is sleeping well. Maybe they will somehow sleep well together!

Please pray for us that this works. I am out of ideas after this.


  1. Is he too big to sleep in a pack n play? That would not make a satisfying thunk for him.

    One website I saw said this: A more creative approach to mitigate the danger of head banging is to have the child practice the movement in the daytime with the difference being that the “game” is to stop just short of the pillow or headboard. Often, the new learned behavior will persist into drowsiness and sleep

  2. Yes he started climbing out of the pack n play along time ago. That idea of doing it during the day is worth a shot, though. Thanks for the suggestion Clara!

  3. He may do better in a toddler bed than you think! This is about the age we switched Audrey because she HATED being a "baby" in a crib. Despite trying to get out of the crib, she never once tried to get out of the toddler bed. I don't think she actually wanted to get OUT of her crib, so much as she hated feeling confined. It may be worth a shot?

  4. If moving his crib doesn't work I guess the toddler bed is the next step
    I'm scared!

  5. Robert banged his head when he was young outside of his crib, it was very scary. He would bang it on anything he could; cabinets, the floor, the sidewalk. We questioned and had him tested to see if he was autistic, and of course he's NOT. We realized if he didn't get his way; pick up his own sippy cup off the counter, instead of having me hand it to him, etc. He would bang his head out of frustration, I have a very independent little guy! So the more he was allowed to do for himself, the better. The head banging stopped shortly after we made the connection. I think putting Lucas in a toddler bed is a GREAT idea! Maybe he hates being confined in his crib and is just expressing his frustration. We moved Robert into a toddler bed at a very early age, the little stinker used to climb out of his crib, which was scary. And someone just happen to bless us with a gently used Lightning McQueen bed, so we thought we'd give it a shot and see if he'd stay in his new toddler bed and he did well! He never got up once to our surprise. If the head banging stops and getting out of the new toddler bed is a problem, you could always put a baby gate in his doorway to keep him in his room and see how that goes. We had to do that with our daughter for a short period of time when she was little. Hang in there! Praying for you and your family. This to shall pass...