Our almost 6 month old daughter has recently started sitting up. She's pretty good at it, but sometimes, she reaches for something a little beyond her reach and bumps her head on the floor. What is the best way to react? Here are the ideas I've heard:

  • Nurse her
  • Cheer to make it seem less bad
  • Soothe her - cuddle, say "it's alright", etc.

Have you tried any of these or other responses? How do they work? Is it a case-by-case basis?

asked 25 Jan '10, 16:03

Fun2Dream's gravatar image

Fun2Dream
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What, no one said, "I try to capture it on video and post to youtube. Hilarious!" ?

(25 Jan '10, 22:58) Adam Davis

Not sure where you are, but have you seen a Bumbo Chair? http://www.bumbo.ca They're awesome! I wish they made them in my size. ;) Pic: http://goo.gl/ByKv

(25 Jan '10, 23:09) Jeff
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@Jeff - we have a Bumbo. She has also toppled out of it! She's talented. I also want her to learn to sit on the floor alone, and I'm not sure if the Bumbo will help with that or not, since it is so different from sitting on a flat surface. We still use it, just not for sitting practice :)

(26 Jan '10, 15:28) Fun2Dream

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It seems self evident, but I always let my son react before me. That way, I know if he cries, it's because he is hurt rather than because I reacted to him. If he does react, in an excited voice I say "You fell! Oh no!" and if it gets a smile out of him, I know he was just startled, and I put him back up again. If he is still crying, I pick him up, knowing that his is hurt.

I've never really had to go as far as far as nursing, usually just a pick up. I think that way he learns to soothe himself in the most secure way possible - in the comfort of mommy's arms.

I don't know if this is rational or not, but I always felt that responding positively or excitedly to falls may confuse the baby and not allow him to trust his own instincts as far as how to react to pain and failure.

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answered 25 Jan '10, 17:14

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I agree. I know children who look at the adults in the room to judge how they should react to a fall. Kids are tougher than you think. If you make a big deal out of it, they will think it's a big deal.

(25 Jan '10, 17:38) Anne
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My son is constantly bumping his head into things that are just above his line of sight. So I just watch to see if he laughs or cries. Sometimes when he cries, I just rub where he knocked his head, tell him that he's okay, then send him out to play again.

(25 Jan '10, 17:58) mkcoehoorn

I completely agree. Our son is soon coming into this phase, and my wife and I have agreed not to overreact and only to soothe if he really hurt himself, not if he's just crying because he's surprised or annoyed.

(26 Jan '10, 11:35) brandstaetter

My son is 5 months old and sits up against a nursing pillow. Lately he has been launching himself forward. Last week I got up to get water and he toppled over for the very first time onto the carpet and on his forehead. I let out a big gasp and ran to him and did the whole "awww, are you ok? My poor baby..." and he cried. A couple of days later he did the exact same thing and I tried the happy "wow! you moved all by yourself, you big boy!" and he smiled. Unless they are REALLY hurt, I think babies largely react to their parent's reactions.

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answered 25 Jan '10, 19:17

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DazedandConfused
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This happens to me when I put him in his crib, if I do it smiling and speaking like going in is a good thing, he doesn't cry, other wise, he screams until we take him out

(25 Jan '10, 19:22) JJJ

Babies generally cannot sit up by themselves until they are 4-8 months old.

As they learn to keep their balance, they fall over.

A lot.

They don't like it.

But their subsequent cry depends on the type of bonk. Sometimes it's just scary (They pause very briefly with a startled look on their face, then close their eyes and cry intermittently), other times it's frustrating (They usually start crying on the way down, kind of like "Mayday! Mayday! Gyroscope malfunction! I'm losing control - bonk! - AAAAAAAAH!").

The reaction I give depends very much on the type of bonk, as well as the baby's reaction. I'm starting to ignore our 10 month old when I hear a bonk and letting him tell me how bad it was rather than turning toward the sound and doing my own assessment. If it's just a frustrated cry I'll let him cry it out for a few seconds to see if he'll self-recover. If he asks for comfort, or goes into a significant cry, then I'll give him whatever comfort he seems to want, and then help him to try again, or engage him in another activity if I feel he's not ready to try again (ie, maybe he's too tired).

Then there are those times it really, really hurts. You know when someone hits you in the stomach and you just can't get any air in you to scream, but your mouth is wide open ready to go any time your lungs are ready? That's it.

They close their little eyes really tight, their mouth is wide open, body so tense it almost shivers, arms and legs outstretched, fingers and toes clenched, little tears starting streams down their cheeks... and they are like that for what seem like an eternity, until they (finally!) get a big breath and start wailing!

And there's nothing you can do about it. All you can hope is that by holding them safely and securely, using a comforting voice, and waiting they will calm down enough to eat, be distracted, or sleep. It is rather upsetting for the parents, and everyone else stands around just feeling the pain, awkwardly wondering if there's something they should be doing to help.

But it's nothing like the "I'm getting my first shot" cry...

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answered 25 Jan '10, 18:25

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Adam Davis
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Adapted from my own writeup 9 years ago with my first son - http://www.everything2.com/title/He+flops+over+and+bonks+his+head - wow, time goes by quickly! Remember to write down your experiences as you have them, there are aspects of my early parenting days that I only recall when I read what I wrote at the time...

(25 Jan '10, 18:27) Adam Davis
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Asked: 25 Jan '10, 16:03

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Last updated: 25 Jan '10, 19:17