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How do you stop a biter?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Okay, new territory for me....DD - who just turned one - is biting.  Not too much, but she's gotten me twice and frequently bites blankets/toys/furniture in excitement or anger.  I would very much like to stem the tide before she chomps on her sister, or another kiddo.  


So, hit me...what are your best *gentle* ways to discourage biting?

post #2 of 19

Our minor biting issues in the 12 - 24 month range were pretty easily resolved by physical prevention (usually a hand cupped over her mouth) accompanied by "we do not bite" or something like that, and training her to chomp on a teether.  Actually, she's in a bit of an oral phase now at almost 3.5, and I've been offering her the teether again.  It really seems to help to just let her bite something when she needs to. 

post #3 of 19

newmamalizzy, giving her something else to bite sounds like a great, common-sense idea.


Does anyone have ideas for getting a 5-year-old, almost 6-year-old to not bite? He may still be in an oral phase, as he puts a lot of things in his mouth (I've repeatedly told him not to put toys in his mouth). He bit his grandpa the other day; I believe it was during play. Grandpa lectured him.

post #4 of 19

First stopping them when you can tell what's coming next is the best thing & saying I won't let you bite me/suzy/whoever and then offering something that's ok to bite whether it's a teether or a frozen washcloth or whatever you've deemed ok in your house. Even older children like yours Catholic Mama...he might be getting ready to lose his first tooth which will bring more awareness to the mouth/teeth. You could ask if his teeth are loose or hurting to further discern what to do next.

post #5 of 19

"Hey (son). Do you have any loose teeth?"


"Do any of your teeth hurt?"



Nice try though, thanks anyway!

post #6 of 19

There are a ton of "chew toys" for kids who need extra oral stimulation. Talk Tools (http://www.talktools.com/sensory-tools/) has a bunch of options, but the Chewy Tubes might be the best thing for bigger kids who need to really bite/chew something. We were referred to the site by DS's developmental specialist, who said she sees lots of kids who keep them on strings around their necks inside their shirts, and they can pull them out whenever they need them. Not such a great idea for smaller kids, since the string around the neck might not  be safe, but something with that kind of resistance might help satisfy the need to bite.

post #7 of 19

I have the same question, but my 12-month old (as of Tuesday!) is biting my nipples--hard!!  I'm worried he's going to bite them off.  I've figured out how to get him to release the nipple, for the most part, by poking my finger into his jaw.  But he finds that tickly and funny and laughs.  So, it releases me, which is the primary and immediate goal, but I worry I'm encouraging him to do it because something fun happens when he does.  But I can't find any other way to get him off my nip when he bites--he gets hold and stays there and it's awful.  Let me know if anyone has other ideas.


I've tried:

  • tickling his body
  • pressing his face into my boob
  • trying to pull him off
  • Saying "No" sharply
post #8 of 19
I read an article recently about oral development and biting in toddlers. The small group was given "chewier" treats for lunch and snack and the biting incidents went way down.
post #9 of 19
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

I read an article recently about oral development and biting in toddlers. The small group was given "chewier" treats for lunch and snack and the biting incidents went way down.

Could you please give some examples of chewier food I could try giving my son for lunch?

post #10 of 19

Jerky, dried apricots, and fruit leather come to mind for me. 

post #11 of 19

My 14 month old has started doing this also -seems to happen mostly when he's excited, or wants to get my attention.    I was told by a friend of mine that has 3, to put him down on the floor or walk away, as soon as he does it.  This is telling him that it's not ok, you wont be treated that way, and if he bites you're just going to leave.  I have to say, he hates it when I do that, and I've already noticed a dramatic difference in the biting.  Of course u have to accompany your leaving with a firm "no" or "no bite" or whatever, but it works!

post #12 of 19



My son is a biter too. He is 2.5 and has done it from when he was little during various developmental stages.  We have tried all sorts of different approaches to try and get him to stop and for him, it has been very hard.  He bites when he is so frustrated or angry that he doesn't know what else to do.  What is working the best now, is, like what others have said, to stop it before it gets to that point (which is sometimes hard to catch), redirecting for emotions (stop, take a deep breath, hit a pillow, get a teether, help him get better words than he has in his vocabulary, etc) and getting right on his level.  We did have to stop the play biting games when he was little and he did seem to do it more when he was teething.  

Good luck!  We are having slow success.  

post #13 of 19

I know it's common practice to use short phrases w/our children, I used to do it too, but really they aren't dogs. They're children, whole people that deserve much more respect than that. They understand more than short phrases. Granted you don't want to over complicate it either, but I think it's much better to use 1 whole complete sentence. As in, OW! You bit me. That really hurts! 

(If you're truly upset &/or in pain & need to distance yourself from your child do so, but do it w/o fanfare.) I'm going to go take care of my owie now and I want you to play here in the living room. Then get up & calmly walk away. Try & keep it in perspective though. Toddlers are testing boundaries all the time. It's not personal. It's just how they learn about you & their world. 

If you have a little that bites while nursing have you tried saying, please open your mouth, or using the phrase "you may..." is pretty effective  (so that you can unlatch...?) 

post #14 of 19
My experience comes from working with one and two year olds in a preschool setting. Some kids can't control their instinct to bite. This is typically because they want something but can't verbalized it. Examples:
- want a toy that another has and doesn't have the vetbsl skills to ask
- dont want someone near them but can't say, "move back!"
- are feeling frustrated and bite the closest person as a way of saying, "I'm mad!"

The biter isn't necessarily trying to bite and hurt someone, so saying "ouch" and, "no biting" don't work because they don't address the cause. Careful observation of the motivation of the bite DOES. Sometimes you need to physically block a bite with your hand, but also say, "You look mad that X is too close to you. Say 'move back X!'" Then you are helping to teach the child what to do instead of biting.
post #15 of 19

OH what a great idea!!  My son is a HUGE biter at 2.5.  He does it out of frustration of not getting his way mostly.  He tries to bite me, other kids, the day care providers, his father, my mother.  But mostly when he just doesn't get his way.  He's predominately gotten over the biting because he can't verbalize what he wants hump.


I have tried reasoning (with a 2.5 year old) and we just end up both horribly frustrated as he continues to bite, pinch, and now slap.  


But this, this might work for me (at home only though - not on the crowded subway when he want to sit in his "own seat", stand, walk, you name it) and will keep my levels of frustration down.  I don't like counting (he just waits and says "3") or time outs (he most certainly doesn't sit still and I want to get rid of the crib soon) but have attempted both to not much avail.  I can remove the object causing the problem, say "no biting - it hurts mama (or whomever) and then not interact.  


On the other hand I have a slight trigger about being ignored as my dad would just not talk to me for days when he got angry at me.  But I don't think it's quite the same thing.


Thanks for the idea!

post #16 of 19

There are some homeopathic remedies that I've used successfully with my very young clients who have this problem behavior.  Homeopathy is very gentle.  It is also holistic so other physical and/or emotional issues are taken into consideration when choosing a homeopathic remedy.  It looks like you live in an area that has several homeopaths to choose from.  I can do Skype appointments from Florida, but it's probably better for you to find someone locally.



Ruth Pearson Smith

Homeopathic Consultant


post #17 of 19

With my first born, I let biting stop me from nursing because I was overwhelmed with yet another nursing challenge- so I bottle fed after 6 months of age.  Looking back, I really regret that and wish I had more knowledge and support to handle it without complete weaning.  With my 2nd born, I would tap her nose.  Not hard mind you but she didn't like that and she stopped right away never to take up the act again.  With my 3rd born, nothing I tried stopped the behavior... well, no amount of stern "no" or tap on her nose or cheek  and I'm sure I tried absolutely everything I could research on the internet UNTIL I stopped nursing her.  Once she realized that she wasn't going to get away with it because nursing would go away (and I'm not talking permanently or long periods of time I'm saying, maybe for 5 to 15 minutes depending on her age and nutritional dependency) She always returned to the breast with a perfect attitude next time.  No words or other actions required.  This is what got through to her. .  And at 3.5, it is still my go-to method for all bad nursing behavior like poking, pinching, hitting, poor latch while nursing.  To get a stubborn child who has teeth in the front to unlatch, I stick my finger between her teeth thus breaking the latch for her or gently pull her cheek back toward her gum/teeth until it is more uncomfortable for her to stay latched than it is for her to bite or scrape the nipple with her teeth while pulling away.  Now that my daughter is 3, I can ask her directly to unlatch if I'm uncomfortable for some reason... but if she's in a mischievous mood, this doesn't always happen so I put the safety of my nipple first. As she got older, I was able to sympathize with her because she would cry to nurse after I took it away, "It makes me sad too when you bite me and we have to stop!" or some such statement that is natural to you.  Sometimes you can cuddle a child in sympathy after interrupting the nursing session and sometimes you have to walk away and do something else and then come back and try again.

post #18 of 19

This might not work well on older children, but on kids around 1 year, I think the best method for getting them to stop biting is to ignore them. When they bite, don't react at all. Ignore what they are doing. When they let go, walk away. The same goes for hitting, scratching, biting or hair pulling.


My daughter started doing this around the same age and for a few weeks, I endured the abuse. I tried telling her no. I tried crying out in pain and telling her it hurt while looking very sad. I tried explaining why it was wrong to bite or just saying, "We don't bite." What I realized was that every time I reacted in any way at all, I was reinforcing her motivation for biting. She was biting to get my attention or to get me to do something, and by reacting, I was giving her what I want. Positive attention, negative attention...she didn't care which. All she wanted was for me to pay attention and do what she wanted NOW. By ignoring her and then getting up and walking away, I sent a clear message that biting was not the way to get my attention or what she wanted. The behavior stopped entirely within 2 or 3 more biting incidents. Once she realized it wasn't effective, it entirely lost its appeal.


It helps, too, if you notice why/when they are biting. My daughter mostly bit when I was busy doing other things, so if I tried to be more aware of when she was trying to get my attention and would respond immediately and drop what I was doing if I noticed. Hard if you're making dinner or something, but I wanted to set up positive reinforcement for desirable ways to get my attention or to get me to do something, not just teach her what wouldn't work.

post #19 of 19
I can't say why it worked for us, but in conjunction with monitoring behaviour triggers, stopping the action midway and helping to communicate, we also played a game called Gentle Bite.

It sounds crazy, but Gentle Bite involved me putting the knuckle of my finger in between the toddler's teeth and asking for a gentle bite. And then I would teach them the correct pressure of gentle. So when they would go to bite, after helping them verbalize the issue etc, I would help them remember that we only use teeth on people during Gentle Bite, and then we would play the game.

And I realize that this might be a game that is specifically well-suited to my children, but it worked really well with spirited DD,and fairly well with DS too. They both LOVE it, for some reason, and request to play it all the time.

Oh, and it was easy to teach then that gentle bites were by permission only - DD figured out pretty quick that other kids don't like gentle bites either. They just seem to know that it's just between them and I.

But again, that's my crazy thing, and I have no idea why it worked, or if its even a good idea for other people to try. But it was essential to our no biting strategies.
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