Hello, I would like to work to assist you today.
Being the mother of twin 17 month old girls, I am very familiar with this stage in toddler development at the moment. And let me assure you that experimentation with hitting and/or biting is common for this age range, as they are learning to communicate, and are learning even further that using their hands to hit is as well a form of communication. The key is to teach him that there are better ways of getting what he wants. This can be done first by you, or any adult who he tries to hit remaining calm, and definitely do not yell or spank him, because that only teaches him that anger and hitting is ok. Either dodge, gently stop, or take the hit, and gently tell him, "No hitting", at this time, you want to provide him an alternative that is acceptable, such as playing patty cake with his hands, itsy bitsy spider, or playing with some other game or toy.
My son likes to hit people once he gets comfortable around them, he has gone so far as to hit my 73 year old aunt. How do I get him to stop. I have tried time out but it doesn't work. What else can I do?
Can you see what I have provided above? Something else to add; pay attention to if there are times that he is more likely to do this (other when simply in the presence of adults); is he hungry, tired, bored, feeling smothered? All of these are possibilities to consider as well. He is probably too young to understand time outs at this age. The best steps to take for toddlers this age is to correct and redirect. Do tell him no, but after that, provide him with something to say yes to, and praise him when he engages back in the behavior or game that you want him to.
Also, be sure to cuddle, rub your son's hair, and teach your son appropriate ways to touch with his hands through your interactions with him. There are also several books that should be appropriate for your son's age that you can read to him; "No Hitting" by Karen Katz is one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0448436124?ie=UTF8&tag=childrens.books.guide-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0448436124
And "Hands are not for Hitting" by Marieka Heinlen is another: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157542200X?ie=UTF8&tag=childrens.books.guide-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=157542200X
I do hope that I have been of some assistance to you today. If you do have any questions or comments, or you need further insight, please refrain from rating me, as my goal is to provide excellent service in the form of an answer that is to your satisfaction. If you are not satisfied with my answer, I do ask that you message for me "earthsister," and I will gladly look further into the issue with you, in order to provide you with a meaningful and useful answer. Thank you.