Your adorable little baby might be the sweetest little gummy shark one day – but then suddenly they get teeth and they start biting – really biting. Your thoughts immediately race forward to them being the toddler at daycare that bites and then the bully at school. Panic ensues. And not to mention pain – those little teeth are sharp!
But rest assured, this, like so many other phases is very normal and usually nothing to worry about (aside from it being painful, that is) and should pass soon enough.
Why do babies bite?
Some of the most common reasons your baby is using you as their very own person chew toy include:
Around 5 months babies will start getting their teeth and you will usually find it’s not just you that they are gnawing on – but anything (or anyone) they can get their hands on.
Yep, you are their favourite thing in the whole world – and by giving them a reaction when they bite you that’s exactly what they were hoping for! Cue them doing it again.
Babies are constantly learning and exploring by putting things in their mouths and they don’t yet understand that they are allowed to chew on a teething toy but not mummy’s arm (or nipple!).
Babies and toddlers do not have the communication skills to express how they are feeling and so they often find other ways to do this. And biting might be one of those ways.
So how can you get them to stop?
- Be firm in telling them no, but keep calm. Tell them plain and simply that biting is not allowed – but don’t create a huge fanfare or they might see that as attention and feed off that.
- Focus any attention on the person who was bitten – not the biter! If it was a sibling, comfort them first.
- Look for patterns around the behaviour, for example, is it when they are overtired or bored? Then try and stop the behaviour from occurring in the first place.
- Praise positive behaviour and make sure your baby or toddler is getting quality attention from you regularly to fill up their cup.
- If the behaviour is occurring at daycare or preschool speak with their teacher about ways to help the situation.
Most children should grow out of this phase naturally by around 3 if not before then, however, if the behaviour continues or worsens, or you are concerned in any way you should always speak with your doctor.