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Understanding What Triggers Biting

Understanding Why Toddlers Bite And How To Diffuse It

When your child bites, it can make you feel like a bad parent or worry about your child being kicked out of playgroups or daycare, but take solace in knowing that biting is normal developmental behavior for babies and toddlers. It's often just a phase, according to T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., who notes that the majority of children stop biting by the time they are 3 or 4.

Biting is often motivated by frustration -- toddlers have low thresholds for frustration and don't know how to react when pushed to their emotional brink. A variety of situations can trigger biting, and understanding them can help you rectify things. Your child may be angry that another tot took away her toy or she may be tired. She may be trying to get your attention while you're talking to a friend. Or she may have teething pain.

If you spot your child about to bite, calmly try to diffuse the situation by saying, "You don't bite your friend" or gently cupping your hand over your child's mouth.

If your toddler has already chomped down on someone, tell her it's not okay to bite. Comfort the person who has been bitten, while saying something to your child like, "Biting hurts. We don't bite people."

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