A MAN has been locked up for 20 months for hitting a baby hard in the face.

The 12-month-old girl suffered serious bruising to her face in the attack and spent a night in hospital, Bradford Crown Court heard.

The 18-year-old Bradford man, who was living with the infant's 19-year-old mother, pleaded guilty to causing the baby actual bodily harm on March 22.

He had a history of self harm with knives and razors and had smashed up the woman's flat during their "on off relationship", prosecutor Charlotte Eastwood said today.

The child's mother admitted neglecting her daughter by failing to summon medical help and not informing the authorities what had been done to her.

She was sentenced to a 12 month community order with supervision.

Judge Robert Bartfield made an order banning any publicity that could lead to the baby's identification.

Miss Eastwood said the police were called to the teenage couple's home in Bradford when the man held a knife to his throat in the kitchen.

Officers saw the baby, in her mother's arms, had a black eye and bruising to her forehead and cheek.

They were told the man would cut himself because he heard voices.

He was arrested after saying of the baby: "I only hit her once."

The man told the police he struck the child after she bit him.

"I hit her as hard as I would have hit anyone," he said.

The baby's mother said she was unable to report the assault at first because the man locked her in the flat.

She said he threatened to stab her if she left the property.

The man had previous convictions for possession of an imitation firearm, harassment, criminal damage and aggravated vehicle taking.

His barrister, Michael Smith, said: "He is an immature young man and simply could not cope in the environment in which he found himself."

Jayne Beckett, for the baby's mother, said she was intimidated by the man and under his spell.

"She is a good mother: she is just a very, very young mother," Mrs Beckett said.

The baby was in foster care but she was hoping to build a future with her.

Judge Bartfield told the man: "If you have a temper that was likely to be tested by a baby, you should have kept well away."

He said the infant could have been killed.

"Had you been older, the sentence would have been longer," the judge added.

The man, already in custody in Doncaster Prison, will serve his sentence in a young offender institution.