Managing Biting, Hitting, Pulling and Crying in Babies
Updated: Sep 22, 2022
In this article, I am sharing situations where the baby bites, hits, pulls, or cries and suggestions on how to manage them.
Biting, hitting and pulling
Babies (6 to 12 months)
Biting, hitting and pulling help the baby to understand the concept of “cause and effect”.
For example, the baby bites the parent and then watches to see what the parent will do.
If the parent
- laughs or makes it into a game, the baby might try it again to see whether he will get the same reaction.
- gets angry, the baby might be fascinated by the extreme reactions which might also make the baby want to try it again.
If the parent doesn’t like what the baby is doing, the parent can say “No”.
Remove the baby’s hand and the parent turn away or put the baby down.
This takes away attention from the behaviour.
If the baby hits, bites or pulls hair again, respond in the same way.
The baby will repeat behaviour that gets a lot of attention.
When the baby shows positive behaviour such as cuddling or gentle touch, gives the baby lots of attention and praises the baby.
If the parent sees the baby biting, hitting or pulling another person or baby, stay calm and get in quickly with an apology to the baby and the other parent.
Says to the baby, “No! Biting, hitting or pulling hurts” and removes the baby from the situation.
Babies (0-12 months)
Crying is the baby's way of communicating needs such as food, warmth, love, security and comfort and getting a response from the parent.
At first, it can be tricky and frustrating to interpret the baby's cries.
So, in this second part of the article, I am sharing reasons why the baby cries and suggestions what the parent can do in response.
The baby is hungry.
The baby tends to get hungry fast because the baby’s stomach is small.
- Suck the fists.
- Turn towards the mother’s breast in response to a stroke on the cheek or lips which are known as a rooting reflex when the mother picks the baby up.
- Feed the baby when the parent notices the signs of hunger.
The baby’s tummy hurts.
Colic is uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby. It often occurs when the baby is two or three weeks old or the baby is premature.
It also tends to happen more often in the evenings and at night.
The baby is considered colicky if the baby is younger than five months and if the baby cries for more than three hours in a row on three or more days a week for at least three weeks.
- Cry louder and higher than normal.
- Clench fists, arched backs, tight tummies, knees pulled up to their chests.
- Burp the baby after feeding.
- Rub the baby's back and massage the stomach gently.
- Check with a doctor about prescribed colic remedies.
Click here to read about “Baby Sleep Tips”.
The baby’s diaper needs changing.
The baby normally will protest when with wet or soiled diapers, especially if the skin feels irritated.
- The baby's diaper is heavy and/or smelly.
- Change the baby’s diaper immediately.
The baby is not feeling well.
If the baby's crying tone is different from normal, it could be a sign of being unwell or a teething problem.
- Runny nose, cough, fever, lethargy, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.
- Bring the baby to see a doctor immediately.
If the baby is crying persistently, shows any signs of illness and is running a temperature above 37.5°C.
The baby is too hot or cold.
- Check the baby’s temperature with a thermometer.
- Check if the baby is too hot or cold by feeling the tummy or neck.
- The baby looks uncomfortable and maybe crying.
- If the baby is too cold, increase the room temperature and add clothing.
- If the baby is too hot, remove some clothing and/or change to lighter clothing and/or decrease the room's temperature.
The baby is tired and needs a rest.
The baby may find it hard to get to sleep especially if overtired.
The baby receives lots of attention especially from doting visitors and may over-stimulate the baby, making it harder for the baby to sleep.
- Whine and Cry.
- Stare blankly into space and be quieter than normal.
- Aware of the baby's sleep cues.
- Give the baby a warm bath.
- Try carrying the baby to a quiet room before bed to calm down and unwind.
The baby wants to be carried.
The baby needs lots of cuddling, physical contact and reassurance so crying might be a way to get attention.
- Cry when not with the mother.
- Carry the baby.
Does your baby “keep waking up in the night”? Here are tips for you to try it out.
I hope all the suggestions will help you to manage situations where the baby’s biting, hitting, pulling or crying better.
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