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Infant Care (up to 18 months old) Message Board
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Old 03-17-2008, 02:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 338
liloulou HB User
14 month old hits herself, pulls her hair, etc...

My 14 month old gets frustrated (I think?) and hits her head with her hands, pulls her own hair and bangs her head on the wall. She does this when visibly frustrated, but also when I'm not sure she is frustrated at all.
Does anyone else have experience with this? I want her to express her frustration, but not hurt herself.
Any advise?

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Old 03-21-2008, 07:10 PM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 471
Hope2Heal HB User
Re: 14 month old hits herself, pulls her hair, etc...


I am sorry your toddler is doing these things it is unsettling to watch. Look, there are probably a million reasons why your baby could be acting this way and can range from normal toddler behavior for some high strung high tempered kids to disabilities such as autism. The only thing I can tell you is my son who is now 19 months old, went through this around 15 months. He had always been an easy going kid and suddenly began doing the exact same things you mention. It scared me so much, some days he would just sob and it seemed he was getting so frustrated so easily. I am happy to report he is just fine now and it stopped as suddenly as it began about 6-8 weeks later.
I was going crazy trying to find out the cause. I didn't feel like he was autistic or has any developmental delay and I also didn't feel like this is just normal toddler stuff in our case so I began playing detective.

First, I recognized that he had just had his MMR vaccination about a week or two earlier and I was thinking maybe he was having some sort of reaction to that. I began to look at his diet and noticed he was having more sugar than he should. I began diluting his juice to like 80% water. I spent time observing to see when he was acting like this the most and it seemed like no apparant pattern at first, but then I started thinking maybe he was hungry. HE never ate very well at breakfast but ate good for lunch an dinner and seemed to do particularly bad in the mornings. I began introducing more protien and fat into his diet such as eggs, cheese, cold cuts, cutting up ham or chicken into his macaroni etc and cut out as much sugar as possible. I remember as a baby he used to get very hungry very quickly and would scream like crazy until I fed him. So I started thinking maybe it is a blood sugar thing, since he was in NICU for 5 days with low blood sugar at birth. So now I am very careful to keep him on a eating schedule and always make sure he is eating protein and fat with every meal, it seems to satisfy him longer. I don't know if it was something I did or not, but suddenly one day he stopped and hasn't been doing anything like that since. Maybe it was a phase. I think it was a combo of things and I still feel strongly that it was and diet related.

My advice is to be a detective, if you feel this is not normal for your child then watch when the behavior starts, take notes each time and try and see a pattern. I hope this reply helped. For me I jsut couldn't accept that oh this is just my baby being a toddler, when I felt like he was truly struggling unhappy or in pain in some way. Also, right after the phase ended he suddenly began getting taller! When I compare the pics of him in december and now I can't believe how much taller he got! He now can open doors with the knob! So maybe he was going through a growth spurt and needed his diet changed and upgraded. Good luck and let us know how it goes

Last edited by Hope2Heal; 03-21-2008 at 07:15 PM.

Old 03-24-2008, 06:26 AM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 338
liloulou HB User
Re: 14 month old hits herself, pulls her hair, etc...

Thank you for your long email. I just wasn't sure if this is normal toddler behavior and a phase that they all go through or something I should be worried about. I did ask the doctor too a couple of days ago and he just said to let her stay in a safe place and do her outbursts. He said she won't hit herself hard enough to hurt herself. (um, ok I guess).
I realize the past two or three weeks she is becoming more decisive about what she wants and doesn't want (shakes her head "no" for example). She gets really frustrated when she doesn't get what she wants or if she can't do something because she just doesn't grasp the concepts yet.
I think her outbursts stem from this.
I will be attentive to her diet too though and watch this. She doesn't eat a lot of sugar, but she refuses to eat all meats and fishes (chicken, sole, etc...) She will eat any veggie or fruit but no meat...
Thanks for your advice.

Old 03-28-2008, 01:45 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 471
Hope2Heal HB User
Re: 14 month old hits herself, pulls her hair, etc...

HI again

Since your child doesn't like meat, are you sure she is getting enough protein? I have this problem with my son who is also not a big fan of meat. I have had to really get creative to make sure he was getting protein. Keep in mind protein is very important for brain function and other important stuff.
My son eats scrambled eggs with cheese, sometimes I dice up ham and add that into the eggs, french toast coated in lots of egg with butter and sugar free syrup, avocado chunks (surprisingly high in protein and fat) cheese in any form, american, cheddar cubes, macaroni and cheese, beans, he likes baked beans, and keep in mind that pasta is also high in protein. My son just loves it, I make all different kind, tri-color spirals or egg noodles and put on butter and parmesan cheese. You can also buy high protein pasta.
If my son does not eat enough protein he gets so irritable. I am a big believer in diet as an affect on behavior, I have taught young kids in preshcool and daycare for many years and have seen first hand the effects of diet and behavior.

Of course your toddler is also asserting herself and saying no and wanting to do things her way are normal. She should still be able to have some tantrums with out it having to get extreme. I personally feel that while tantrums are normal and healthy, headbanging and screaming can often point to something else. When my son is eating properly and well rested he still has tantrums, which include him yelling no no no and crying a few minutes or doing some type of tantrum dance which makes me want to laugh, or throw things such as his plate off the high chair, or run away and hide. But he doesn't get to the extreme of pulling his hair, hitting his head with his hand, shrieking and prolonged sobbing like he did for those six weeks.

Good luck and I hope this helped! Believe me just as soon as a I figure out one thing I am stumped by something new. I am either posting on this board asking for help or offering help to someone going through something I just figured out! LOL

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