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Aggressive baby?

Hi all, I'm really starting to struggle with Hugo's aggression. He is 8.5 months old now and has always been quite aggressive - hair pulling, scratching, hitting, swiping and pinching, but now that he's getting bigger it's much much worse. He's starting to bite me when I'm breastfeeding him which is particularly unpleasant, but he will also pinch my upper arms while I'm holding him to feed him which is REALLY painful. I have bruises and and also scratches on my wrists and face where he claws at me.

He is incredibly active (I recently had to leave him in a creche provided at a wedding we went to, just for the service, and the woman who was running it said that in 40 years she had never seen such a 'full on' baby. He honestly does not stop moving) and loves to jump and bounce on me which is fine (I can deal with the bruises on the tops of my thighs as these don't seem to be inflicted intentionally). But when I pick him up, he fights against me constantly and it's truly wearing me down - mentally as well as physically. He will even fight against me when he's crying to be picked up - I pick him up to comfort him or hold him and he'll kick at me and pinch so I feel like I can't even comfort him some times.

He's not at all a cuddly baby and won't ever sit on my knee for a story or for a cuddle. It feels like the only physical contact I have from him is kicks/scratches/bites and I'm worried it might start to effect our relationship as I'm already dreading having to pick him up sometimes - which I am anxious not to show so that he doesn't pick up on it.

I am sure this will probably come under the label of 'normal developmental behaviour' but has anyone got any ideas on how to make him less aggressive? Clearly he's not at an age where I can reason with him or punish him.

Please help!
Bruised and battered of London


  • Hi P

    I am so sorry you are going through this, I had no idea how bad it was. Toby is like this to a certain degree (I currently have two scratches on my face where he drew blood) but not constantly - although he is obviously slightly younger so maybe I have something to look forward to...

    I am struggling to think of anything meaningful you could do. As you say, explanations etc are pointless but there might be something you could do which wouldn't be punishment but more of a negative association. When Toby bites or pinches me while BFing (other than lightly - if it actually really hurts) I immediately stop feeding him and say No. I know he's far too young to understand this but having said that he is definitely capable of learning (he has learnt plenty of games which involve cause and effect so I don't think it's completely beyond him). Ditto if I'm playing with him and he really hurts me - I immediately tell him No in a displeased tone and put him down. If he gets upset I try to wait at least a minute or two before picking him up again - but would put him down again if he hurt me again iyswim??

    I can't tell whether or not this works at all as it is still early days but I figure it is never too early to show him that inflicting pain makes me unhappy and not want to be close to him.

    So sorry this is so hard for you - you have had such a rough time but you are doing a brilliant job and you are a fab mummy. Hugo is an extremely lucky little boy!!

    C xo

  • didn't want to R&R he is very young so its hard to know really what to do. Have you said to you HV about it??? If yuo don't mind me asking I assume he does not constantly bite etc etc does he play with you, laugh when mummy does silly things?? How is he with other kiddies?? (he is too young to interact properly with other kids but does he hit out at them too)

    is he happy enought to sit and play with his wee toys etc??
  • I'm afraid I can't really help with an answer I just wanted to say that my lo scratches and pinches a lot, she also takes out clumps of my hair, she's 6 months old. I haven't found a way of stopping it completely, I say no when she does it obviously but a couple of times I have tapped her hand and said no.

    I don't want to get into a debate on punishing children but I'm pretty damn sure that it's a mixture of her being bored, wanting attention, and asserting her will. Like your lo mine never stops, since a very young age she has needed constant attention and people have always commented on how active she is.

    As I started with the "no" quite early she does understand the word and will stop but will carry on again a couple of minutes later, I hate to label her but she can just be really naughty sometimes, even at 6 months!

    All I can suggest is that you pick him up on it every time he does it with a "no" and make sure you change your tone of voice and facial expression, I know my lo understands, sorry if that's not much help!

  • I think when he bites, scratches, etc, I would say no, and maybe put him on the floor and Stop what ever it is your doing with him. He is only still young, but children are very clever. Its not harsh discipline, but soon enough he will realise (We hope) that he can't do horrible things to mummy.
    My first used to bite, scratch, etc, It is a phase and I think at one point i actually bite him back (HE WAS MUCH OLDER THOUGH). I know somepeople will disagree with that, but it worked, and it seemed to stop it.
    Hope it all sorts itself out soon.
  • Thanks for posting Peeptoe, I didn't realise you were going through this and although it's not pleasant, I'm reassured that someone else is going through a similar thing.

    While my LO doesn't bite or pinch, he does all of the other things you say. His worst habit is hair pulling and reaching out to peoples faces, as if he is trying to gorge their eyes out or pull the noses off. Unlike you though I never thought it was aggressive, I just thought it was playful behaviour gone a bit wrong.

    I had a wake up call a few weeks ago, I sat him on a mat to play with a couple of other children similar aged and he leaned straight over and pulled the little girls hair. Fortunately I was sat with him so got him straight off and she didn't even cry but I felt so terrible. So in the past few weeks I have started saying no in a harsh voice when he pulls the hair. It doesn't help though that he does it to other people (MIL) and they just lets him. I know MIL can't win because I wouldn't necessarily want her to discipline my child LOL!

    I'll be watching this with interest and hope someone can offer a solution. Here's hoping it's a phase and it passes soon xx
  • My lo is 8 weeks old and has been what I would describe as frantic from birth, I have had terrible trouble breastfeeding in early days as he would just hammer his fists against my breasts and grab out - often pinching a nipple, I could barely hold him as like you peeptoe my lo wriggles and seems to fight against me. He still does it now and mostly when he needs comforting but wont settle however he is so much better and I put it down to baby massage - it might not be at all but I now make a quiet time out every afternoon where I just stroke his head and arms and talk softly to him and every evening I do massage with baby lotion - its the only times he goes all floppy and relaxed - I did this because my mum told me she thought he needed to learn to relax and I think she was right. x
  • my little one has started pinching and biting too. I think it is part of normal development, perhaps indicative of something your family is going through at the moment or something he is going through? I dont mean anything major necessacerily. I think the arrival of teeth has made my LO aware of her ability to retailiate when she feels angry at me. Also the gradual withdrawal of the breast and the start of being looked after more by others.

    Hope it improves soon.

    Em x
  • hiya, my lo is a little like this. He is a very active 11 month old now and I often joke that he beats me up. i am covered in bruises. i do think we're through the worst of it though. he went through a phase of biting me but i can't remember the last time he did that.

    when he's angry/annoyed/impatient about something he does still pinch and pull at my skin and my hair, which he has done for months. he thinks hair pulling is a game, which i may have encouraged as he likes my hair and plays with it. so i'm trying to wean him off that so to speak.

    he grabs my boobs and pulls my top down as well (we are not bf anymore). he likes to put his fingers in people's mouths and pull down on their teeth/lips in a vice like grip!

    as a newborn he would pull and scratch at my breasts, yanking the nipples. i had huge scratches running all down my breasts.

    I am not a boisterous type of person; i'm fairly quiet and subdued really, i know he gets all of this from my oh's side of the family so i do find it a bit hard to deal with and oh is v apologetic! haha.

    Having said all that, now at 11 months, LO is more affectionate than ever towards me. for the first time this month i have noticed him wanting to cuddle me, putting his arms around my neck and laying his head on my shoulder. only for a few seconds mind you, then he's trying to scale my body like a mountain but it's lovely all the same. He will sit on my knee for about 5 mins for a story then wants to get off and crawl around. That period of time is getting longer and longer as his attention span increases. I have noticed very recently he will actually sit on the sofa next to me, cuddled up, for maybe 3 mins tops, watching tv. This is a breakthrough too....

    i just think this is all part of his development and something he's going to grow out of. i'm pretty sure he'll always be very active but we've decided the way to deal with this is to get him involved in as many sports and activities as possible when he's at school to try and expell that energy in a positive way when he's older. hth x
  • firsttime28, 'frantic' is a great word and describes Hugo perfectly as well! I can only guess that the pinching, scratching and hitting are all symptoms of his frustration about something - probably not being able to walk yet! I have tried massage but when he was younger he would just scream and scream, and now he'll crawl off. I try and massage him after his bath and before bed but he still screams and cries then so I have to make it quick - it's certainly not relaxing for either of us.

    Moonbean, he is not ALWAYS like this - he is actually a very smiley little boy and when we're out in public he'll constantly smile at strangers and stare at them till they smile back! Very occasionally after a feed, he'll lie on my lap on his back and I'll tickle this tummy and he LOVES it and just lies so still and smiles and laughs. I just wish he would do that more often!

    Ems101, he's been like this from a very very early age. We had a rocky start with colic and reflux (he's still not entirely over that) so I know that made him uncomfortable and he was in pain and put his aggression down to that. But now at 8.5mths, nothing has changed.

    I do say 'no' when he really hurts me and hold him at arms length or put him down to emphasise my displeasure but between that and his attraction to chewing electrical cables and touching the tv, I'm finding I am saying 'no' all day long and I HATE it! With other babies, he'll always try and touch them but not in the aggressive way he does with me - or maybe that's because I stop him before he can scratch them. He loves to touch babies' heads and I always say in a loud voice so the other mother/parent can hear 'that's nice Hugo, it's nice to be gentle but don't scratch' or 'are you saying hello to X, Hugo?' so they don't think I'll sit back if he gets too boisterous and I always swoop in the minute I see his fingers start to curl up as I know he'll scratch/pinch.

    Thanks everyone for replying. I do know that it's normal (or at least, not ABNORMAL) and I do know that he doesn't mean to hurt me and it's not because he hates me and he will grow out of it (at least I hope I'm not going to be visiting him in prison in 18 years time!) but some days it just gets overwhelming.

    Peeptoe x
  • Oh Jezzy I replied before I saw your post. That is really encouraging, thanks so much. It's funny because I am constantly hearing that little boys are so much more affectionate than little girls and I just can't believe it! I don't necessarily need affection - I'd settle for not having to get private health insurance.

    And the 'fish hook' is one of Hugo's faves as well - is it possible to dislocate a lip?!
  • heheh, we get the fish hook too (little girl), and some times up the nose too!!!!!

    Em x
  • Peeptoe thank you for this post! Its nice to hear its normal and that someone else is going through similar things!

    My hubby has said for a while that Dylan beats up his mummy, now recently its started to get better, he doesn't face slap, fish hook and hair pull nearly half as much, but it still happens especially when tired. He likes to use me as a climbing frame, but since he's started to get confident on his feet he only uses me to pull himself up then he will climb along something else. Its like he takes his frustration out on me, mummy help me do it, and as I cant I just ride out the frustration till he masters whichever skill it is he's learning that day.

    He also isn't a "cuddly" boy but recently he has started to be more so and today he cruised to his daddy for a hug something he has never done before!

    I think now he is more independent and confident with it, things will continue to improve and he will grow out of it. But like you im so fed up of the word no! I feel like a nag lol!

  • I'm sorry you're going through this. My ds is very active and I've found saying 'not for babies!' in a harsh tone is better than no. Then when I do say no he knows it's bad! He understands 'not for babies' perfectly and doesn't touch when I tell him so that's working..she says fingers crossed!
  • Oh wow! It's such a relief to find someone who can relate perfectly to my situation! My little guy is 4 months old and started off very colicky. He is just as aggressive as you describe and it's so frustrating. I have to put him down sometimes. He does it every day usually starting in the late afternoon and progressively gets worse throughout the evening and night. He does everything the original poster described to the T.

    I love him so much, he is my whole world. He's such a happy, smiley baby! Yet it's like he takes his frustration out on me as well. It's getting so bad that he's almost too strong and aggressive to continue to breastfeed him. He is 18 lbs at 27 inches long and only 4 months old. He pinches, punches, kicks, scratches, grabs, pulls my hair, squirms aggressively, throws himself backwards, bites. It's getting worse as he is getting older and stronger. He was a violent kicker during my pregnancy and I was in a lot of pain as soon as he sprouted legs. I will put him into sports as soon as he's old enough, to hopefully get some of his crazy energy out. At night, he'll get extremely hyper. He'll start kicking and jolting his body around, squeal and act like he's dancing. It's hard to describe, although adorable. I'm getting worried that he has some type of hyper active disorder. He shrieks and squeals, now he HUMMMS when he's whining, over and over, as loud as he can. Except he has a very good attention span. He can watch cartoons for 20 minutes at a time, and sometimes longer. He's very smart and strong for his age. He's a handful and has officially worn his mama out. As he is starting to teeth, he is becoming even more aggressive. He'll slam his head down on anything to bite, and shove his hands in his mouth very hard. He'll crunch up and jolt his body and head down into a C. I can't pinpoint what is wrong, he cannot tell me and I'm sure it's just as frustrating to him. He cannot wait to get moving. I swear this boy is going to walk before he crawls lol. He is beyond ready to move on his own. I'm not sure what to do besides trying the methods suggested above. Thanks for listening to my rant!!



  • I am in the same boat. My little girl is 8 months old and she can be aggressive. She is not affectionate either. She only bites when nursing in the evening. I think it's because she is overtired and my milk doesn't let down as quickly as the day goes on so I think she does it out of frustration. I say no when she bites but she's happy to come off anyway since the milk isn't coming out immediately.

    She is very strong so she fights like a toddler when I try to put her to sleep. She's such a happy and smiley baby most of the time but this behavior is happening more often and it takes all of my energy to get her to sleep for naps and at night. She is as strong willed as they come so if she doesn't want to go to sleep, she can wear you out to a point of needing a break for your arms and back from having to hold her so tight.

    She is also into pulling hair, noses and lips and she pinches and grabs often. I say no and redirect her attention. That seems to work. I'm hoping this is just a phase because I don't want to feel like I am constantly fighting my baby. I don't know where this is coming from. I tell my husband that there must be something we are doing wrong or not doing that we should be doing. Both of us are calm people so I don't think it's our personality rubbing off. I'm very affectionate with her but she doesn't reciprocate.

    I'm glad to know I'm not alone. I have a few thoughts as to what it could be that I'll share and ask for opinions. I'm thinking she may not be getting as much stimulation as she needs?? Or maybe it could be that she is still hungry after nursing? I do think most of it is her being overtired since I have so much trouble with her sleeping but there has to be a solution.

  • My son is 7 months old and is extremely aggressive. He is constantly punching things, slapping, trying to bite, pinching me when I hold him, pushes away from me when I try to hold him etc... I have never seen this before and I curious if this is okay behavior or if I need to have him seen. I mean he does laugh and play, he is just so ruff.

  • Mum, hugs to you. I have three small children and dad is working most of the day.

    I know it would be hard, but i would pump milk for a bottle, and when the baby begins to thrash me, iwould sit him down away from myself. Prepare the bottle and have someone else feed him. As for pinching and pulling, take the baby tube socks and placr over the hands walk away from him for a few minutes. Return in ten to fifteen minutes dont make eye contact or engahe baby, wait for his first move to show his love and affection for mom. It will be fine????

  • Yhis sounds bad, but it works...for my biters, pinchers and hair pullers. Its not so much the words of discipline but the timing and delivery. If done properly theres no need for the loud no or time out our stop. Immediately upon that hair pull feeling you will be pulled to the ground, as much as it will hurt....reach up stand your ground, and give a firm tug to babies hair dont say no say QUIT NOW. FIRM one time and when baby lets go sobbing, you put them down and remove yourself no matter how badly they want your attention. There is a quick lesson learned.

  • Get an appointment with the pediatrician. Hugs, do you think you will be willing to pump his milk for a week or so in order that he sees momma is no punching bag. If you can let go of the intimacy, document it on day and nite 1 & so on. Watch his behavior closely does he laugh, play, is he alert? Or is he withdrawn and irritated. Slowly as he reaches for mommy, following up with his eyes, licking or rooting for mothers milk, give a quick small suckle and keep eye contact. Stop and give bottle, when baby realizes he is going to get sweet mommies love and nurturing by reciprocating, things will be great. But that first hit, scratch or signs of pain, disengage, no words to exchange and 

  • This is my 12 month old to a T! How did things turn out Peeptoe1??!!!

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