Head banging is yet another toddler habit that parents find disturbing and doctors find completely normal. Having said that, you shouldn’t encourage your child to bang away, as they really could hurt themselves. However, hitting their heads on something like a wall is just a phase some children go through.
Head banging is a habit of approximately 20% of children and can begin as early as 6 months of age. It is interesting to note that a boy is much more likely to begin banging his head than girls. The reason why is a bit of a mystery, but the rhythmic way in which it is done may suggest the child is trying to calm himself down. That is complete conjecture, however.
Most parents want to react quickly and prevent their children from banging their head- that is of course a perfectly reasonable reaction. However, a strong reaction could entice the child into continuing the behavior (much like a toddler swearing or biting while nursing). Doctors say to ignore the act, but do what you can to prevent your child from injury.
If your child is old enough for bumpers in his crib (mind your SIDS safety), then now might be a good time to utilize them if he is head banging. However, serious injury is rare. Remember, your child is voluntarily doing this act- they don’t really want to hurt themselves. If they aren’t doing it for relaxation, they are probably trying to get attention for it. In rare cases, head banging could be a sign of autism or mental retardation, but other symptoms would be present, so don’t panic.
Luckily, like all the other parenting traumas of toddler hood, your child’s head banging phase will be short-lived. That is, of course, if you aren’t feeding into their cry for attention (easier said than done when your child seems to be displaying masochism, I know). By age 3 or 4, head banging will be a thing of the past.