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Christine Jolly, Owner and Parent Coach

Hobart, Tasmania

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Causes, Prevention and Solutions for a Child who Bites

Biting may occur at any age from breastfeeding infants to frustrated toddlers.  There are many reasons for biting, here are some helpful hints on how to deal with biting from breast feeding through to toddlers.

 

Biting at the breast

Newborns are known to gum their mothers nipple while feeding, this may occur when the flow is slow or the breast is drained.  An older baby may bite when he is exploring with his mouth, when he is teething, when disinterested in feeding further or when you are detaching him from the breast and he feels you are being distracted or tense.  

 
Solutions to prevent biting at the breast:

When biting occurs, remain calm, do not smack your baby but remove him carefully from the breast with a firm ’No’.  Don’t try to pull your nipple out of his mouth. Release his grip by drawing him as close as possible towards your breast.  This will make him release the nipple as he draws back to catch his breath, then slip your finger between his gums and gently detach him. Wait a few minutes before reoffering the breast.  Give baby your attention when feeding.  Recognize when he has finished or lost interest in the feed and detach him immediately.  Be careful how you take him off the breast.  

 
Biting and toddlers

Toddlers may begin to bite for a variety of reasons one of these may be an attempt to relieve the discomfort of teething.  Other reasons may be due to boredom, frustration, excitement or experimentation or as a result of going through an anxious or stressful time.  A toddler may bite to attract your attention. 

 
Solutions to prevent biting as a toddler:

When with other children supervise a child who bites, at all times.  Warn parents that your child sometimes bites. 

 

Prevention is the best action, distract the child before biting begins.

 

Never draw attention or make a big fuss over biting it may become a form of attention seeking.  Never bite back this only teaches a child aggressive behaviour.

 

Remain calm and remove the offending child from the situation and explain to her why biting is not acceptable. You may have a special phrase that you use for unacceptable behaviour such as “That’s not friendly”.

 

Give extra attention to the child who was bitten.

 

If biting continues remove the biter for a longer period of time, and keep her occupied with something else.

 

If biting episodes continue, your patience and persistence will be needed before you see results.

 

Tips:  Give lots of positive attention when the child is well behaviour.

 

Remember:  Children will eventually grow out of this disruptive behaviour so remain possitive and confident. 

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Disclaimer: Articles on our website are for education purposes only.  Please consult with your doctor to make sure this information is right for your child.