Why Do Toddlers Bite?

Hungry,baby,putting,a,spoon,to,her,mouth,and,bitingWhy Do Toddlers Bite?

Toddlers bite for a variety of reasons, but many parents find that it is a reaction to their child’s pain or discomfort. This is a common habit between ages 1 and 3. Learn to spot the triggers that set your child off, so you can take steps to stop biting before it becomes an issue.


Biting is one of the first ways toddlers communicate their feelings to others. Rather than shaming or punishing your child for biting, it is better to redirect their behavior by teaching them alternative ways of communicating their needs. Teach them to use their words, such as ‘no’ or ‘stop’ when they don’t want something. The key is to understand why they are biting. It may be because they are feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated, in response to a change in their environment (for example, a new baby), or to get attention from parents. Using a calm, confident approach can help to eliminate biting as a behavior. Children will feel more able to self-regulate their behavior when they feel valued and heard.

Relieving Tension

Toddlers can become biters when they’re overwhelmed with emotions and cannot relieve them in healthy ways. They can also bite to get attention from others when they’re frustrated or feel like they aren’t getting enough love. A toddler who is over-the-top with feelings needs to be in the presence of a nearby, caring adult that will listen to him. The parent, a close friend or any other nearby adult who is patient and kind can help him unload those emotions in a healthier way. When children can release their tensions in natural outlets such as crying, laughing or throwing a tantrum, they are less likely to bite. They can also learn more appropriate ways to communicate their feelings, such as expressing them through words rather than biting.

Expressing Fear Or Frustration

Toddlers often bite when they are feeling angry, frustrated, or frightened. This is because they are trying to get attention or act in self-defense. Predictable schedules and routines help to prevent these behaviors. They also provide comfort and security for children in an environment where they are not always able to see you or other caregivers. Make sure you set aside time each day for a variety of activities such as playing in sand or water, drawing, play-dough, and swimming. It is also helpful to work closely with your child’s day care provider to enforce the no biting rule. If the current routine isn’t working too well, changing your child’s daily schedule may also reduce the likelihood of biting.

Protecting Something

When toddlers bite, it’s usually because they’re trying to protect something. This could be a person, an object or even a toy. If biting is an issue, talk to your child about why they’re doing it. It’s important to understand why they’re doing it so you can help them. Explain that biting hurts and isn’t a good way to behave. Also let your child know that they have other ways to express her feelings, like using words. Often, children will learn to stop biting by being given other options. Whether it’s having a quiet corner in their home or classroom, buying teething rings, or replacing a favorite toy with a safer option, this can help.

Expressing Affection

Biting can, at times, be a sign of affection. But rather than biting, you can encourage your toddler to express affection in a different physical manner by hugging or kissing them when they are feeling happy or loved. Show them how to do this in a non-verbal way. You can smother them with a tummy-to-tummy hug, pat their head or give them a quick squeeze. And while some parents may feel uncomfortable when their toddlers give long, lingering kisses or pat them on the bum in what looks like a sexual way, it’s important to note that this kind of loving behavior is normal for young toddlers.