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Toddler Clinic

Habits

Biting

Most babies who are teething will try to bite you or someone else when a bout of pain makes them want to try anything to alleviate the feeling in their mouth. Whether or not this becomes a habit will depend largely on your reaction.


Avoiding the biting habit

Your baby’s or toddler’s first bites might be on your shoulder or during breastfeeding, when the arrival of new teeth either makes her want to chew on something for pain relief, or simply to try out these strange new gnashers she has.

This bite may well come as complete surprise to you and it can be hard not to give a howl of shocked pain. Unfortunately this may well be taken as a fun reaction by your child.

Try to play these biting incidents down. If you are feeding or cuddling and it happens, just remove your child and say ‘no’. Don’t get angry or give your child a little nip in return as some form of showing ‘what it feels like’, this will only cause confusion and possibly distress. However, consistently saying ‘no’ and taking your child away from the cuddle or the breast on a few occasions is usually enough to put an end to any accidental experimentation.

If biting becomes a habit

If your child continues to bite it may be because she has already discovered that it gets a big reaction from other adults or children and this seems fun. After all, it gets her a lot of attention every time she does it.

This will be at the root of how to overcome biting. If your child does it to you, tell her firmly that this is not nice and that it makes you sad. Stay calm and follow the pattern of gentle but clear reprimand you might use for a tantrum.

If your child bites another adult encourage them to react in the same way as above – playing down the bite and firmly saying ‘no’.

If your child bites another child, be clear that this is not acceptable behaviour then go to the child she has bitten and ask if he or she is alright. Seeing that the other person gets the attention instead should make your child realise this is not a nice game to play.


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