When Your Child Bites

5 October 2016
 Categories: Health & Medical , Blog


If you have a toddler, you probably enjoy many of their developmental phases. Every day, they move more easily, speak more fluently, and reason more deeply. They may also assume less enjoyable behaviors, such as biting, sometimes getting themselves expelled from daycare. You can survive this phase while correcting this behavior by following some expert advice.

Reasons for Biting

When your child bites, they have their reasons, although they may not be initially clear to you. Often, your child bites because they are overwhelmed by something and don't yet have the words to explain how they feel. If they are mad, or scared, or tired, they may express those feelings by biting you or a playmate. Sometimes, your child may just want to try out the behavior and see what happens. Also, if you overreact, your child may repeat the behavior just to get more attention. This is a painful phase in more ways than one.


Since your child is likely to go through a biting stage somewhere between ages one and three, trying to prevent the behavior is a wise strategy. If your child is teething, make certain you always have a teething kit on hand, including a cooling teething ring and gum medication. Cranky kids are more likely to bite, so try to keep your child from getting too tired, angry, or frustrated. Of course, you aren't a miracle worker: babies will have bad days. Making sure they get enough sleep and are fed when they are hungry goes a long way toward keeping them happy and out of biting mode.

Coping Strategies

As a parent, your initial instinct may be to yell and fuss at your child. In the past, some parents actually bit back, another thoroughly discredited strategy. In fact, remaining calm is generally recognized as your best choice. Experts recommend telling your child to stop firmly but without anger and then to pay attention to the victim. You'll help to soothe them and teach your child that biting does not get them attention. This parenting move can be tough on you. You may need to take a time out yourself so that you can calm down and not overreact.

Medical Issues

If your child bites someone and breaks the skin, simple at-home cleaning and disinfecting will usually suffice as far as medical treatment goes. However, these wounds may occasionally become infected. Also, a few serious diseases can be transferred this way. You should probably just pay for your child's victim to seek care at a clinic or with their pediatrician. If you are the victim, you may need to see your own doctor.

If your child gets through babyhood and toddlerhood without biting someone, you have a truly extraordinary little one. You are more likely to face this situation multiple times, and on occasion, you may be the victim. Try to stay calm and figure out your child's biting trigger. Then work with your child to express themselves in other, less painful ways. If the behavior persists, consult your pediatrician for advice.