Five Things Parents Can Do When Baby Bites

It is common for babies starting around the age of 9 months to bite. They are either teething, biting out of frustration or someone laughed when the bit the first time and now they think it’s fun. Moms and dads soon realize, it’s not. Biting causes bruising and if they break the skin, you’ll need to check out if your booster shots are up-to-date. Daycares take biting seriously and will have an action plan in place if they find that your child is biting. Don’t fight them on it, work with them and see if they have any insight as to why your baby is biting. Here are five things parents can do to try to stop their baby from biting:

  1. If you are holding the child, put them down. Say, “No. We don’t bite. Biting hurts.” in a firm manner. Let them know you will not hold or carry them while they are trying to bite you. If they bit another child, put them in a safe ‘time-out’, say the words above and give your attention to the other child. Most likely, your baby is going to throw a fit. That is okay, let them. They are allowed to be upset or angry; they are not allowed to bite. Let them work it out on their own for a few minutes. This will teach your baby that they can work through their frustrations and may help with the biting problem.
  2. If they got a hold of you and bit down, show them that you are hurt. Don’t just say that it hurt, show them by crying – even if you have to pretend. Put them someplace safe and let them know that you aren’t interested in playing with them anymore.
  3. If they are teething, soothe them with a teething ring or topical medication. I know that there are doctors out there that believe teething doesn’t really hurt, so there is no need for topical medications or teethers. I watched my kids teething, they were in pain. I used topical ointments and teethers and they turned out just fine.
  4. If they were biting out of frustration, you will need to let them know that it is not okay to bite by saying the words above. Understand that language barriers will sometimes create so much frustration that a baby will bite to get their message across. So, teach them the words they need to get what they want. Use a form of sign language if needed. If you are unable to give them what they want, deflect their attention to something else.
  5. Some parents get to a point where biting becomes such a habit with their child that they are getting bitten daily, so they bite back. While I don’t agree that this is the optimum solution, it is known to work. It teaches the baby that biting hurts by showing them what hurts really means. And they will hurt if they bite.

When baby bites, it is not a good time. But parents can take solace in the fact that it doesn’t take long to teach that biting isn’t okay. Plus, as your baby matures, they will find less of a need to want to bite because they will be able to use their growing vocabulary instead.

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