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Biting my baby

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,


I have a 21 month old that  constantly bites me, (mommy), daddy but worse my 5 month old. I really donT like to leave them for more than 2 seconds but sometimes nature calls so I have no choice. Usually, I run back to find the 5 month crying with bite marks on her hands or feet. I've tried talking to 21 month old over and over again. Does anyone have tips...and at what age does the biting usually stop. 


Thanks in advance. 


post #2 of 5

When I am trying to solve a persistent behavior issue with one of my kids, I start by asking myself a few questions.  I'll give some hypotheticals that may fit your situation:


1.)  Is he acting out in other areas as well? 


          Sometimes my kids are actually behaving in a similar way to the problem behavior in another area, but it is subtle enough I allow it.  It can be confusing to them.  Like, maybe you told him not to get in the pantry, yet he frequently does to get a snack off the shelf, and that's actually okay with you.  But since you told him not to that, and he is, he may not believe there are no exceptions to biting.   Often, if I look at their actions over the course of several days as a whole, and not just one or two things that are a problem, I can discern a pattern to their behavior and rectify the underlying issue.  When I fix the problem, all the symptoms go away and I don't have to actually address them.


2.) Are his needs being met?


          You aren't going to talk away, discipline, or punish away a need.  It will continue to manifest itself in other, equally annoying or troubling, behaviors.  Is he sure of what he CAN do when you are not in the room, or does he feel a little out of control?  Does biting the baby get your attention?  It may not be that he needs attention in general, but that he just needs something right then.  My 2yo is a terrible screamer.  There is nothing I hate more.  It makes me want to jump out of my skin.  However, the reason she screams is always because she needs me and can't get to me.  If I am there, she will politely say, "Mama, big brother just blah blah", and I can help her.  If she is in the other room, she'll scream bloody murder.  The solution isn't to put her in time out every time she screams, or talk to her about how she doesn't have to scream, etc.  The solution is to watch her and big brother until she is big enough to fend for herself.  The problem is bigger than her.  So, maybe he is using the baby (and biting in general) as his alarm system or to convey some message to you? 


       Also, and probably most likely with a biter, he has a physical need.  All mine bite when they are teething.  Have a look in the back of his mouth and see if he has molars coming in.  Regularly using pain remedies of your choice will probably cut back on the problem a good deal.



post #3 of 5

I suggest first, just preventing it.  Which I know is stating the obvious, sorry.     Just put one of them in a pack n play if you can't be there, or take one with you.  


It's hard, because you obviously need to leave them alone for a few minutes here and there, and he doesn't always bite, so you can't tell when he's going to bite.  You can't watch him every second of every day.  But, for this stage, maybe you could set up a really cool play yard for the older brother with great toys that don't come out of his space, and he can only play with them when he's in there.  That way, you aren't punishing him, you are just giving him his own space to play with things he can't usually have.  


Even if you give him toys that aren't really toys at all.  Some pot lids, an empty oatmeal container, and old remote..etc.


Then, I suggest stop "talking" to him about it.  It's just the reward.  "I make sister cry, mommy and I talk about it".  A simple "no bite" is enough.  He doesn't need a long explanation, because he isn't listening.  He's either trying to ignore you, or basking in the attention.  Instead, make a huge point of talking to him about nothing in particular.  Set up the coffee table with playdough, and make things...talk to him about what you are making, play rough, do things that are just for him.  But, as soon as he bites, the game is over.  "No bite!  We can't play when you bite".


Toddlers bite for different reasons.  They don't have language skills to say "I'm so mad at you".  Sometimes they just love the response.  It's very powerful.  Sometimes, they are frustrated, (that's when a time out can really help, everybody needs a space to chill out, even kids)  Sometimes it just feels so good.  Ask around, even adults get so excited and overwhelmed they could bite.  They don't because they have learned to control the urge.  I wonder if that's where the term "I could  just eat you up" came from.  Only you can tell what he's getting out of biting.  It sounds as if he's frustrated...he's doing it when you leave the room, which sounds like he's a little mad at the baby.


Toddlers can't realize it hurts someone else.  They don't give a rat's tail if "that hurts the baby", because they are not able to empathize.  Only THEY hurt, it can't hurt the baby, because it didn't hurt him.  He isn't ready to hear "That hurts baby" or "That makes Mommy sad", he doesn't  have those skills yet.  Not for several years.  


In a few years though, he will be his sister's  biggest protector.    By the time he's four, NOBODY will be able to mess with his sister.  

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

I really want to thank both of you for responding to my post.  I am taking both posts into consideration especially the part about the "no talking"....aaah parenting is soooooo confusing because I only started the talking thing suggested by an article I read in order to help his language development instead of always "no this and no that".  and also I am going to try and really zone in to see if he is biting due to a need such as is he tired or hungry.


Thanks again.

post #5 of 5

Is there somewhere safe that you can put the baby when you need to go to the bathroom or do something out of sight? For example, at our old house, I had a travel sized baby swing in our bathroom.

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