Why Do Toddlers Bite?

Learning that your child has bitten another person at daycare can be troubling to hear. In most cases, it’s normal for a toddler to bite—it can even be a form of communication or sensory exploration. Still, you want to get to the root of your child’s biting habit to effectively correct this problem behavior. So, why do toddlers bite, and can you get them to quit? Read on to learn how to encourage your toddler to stop biting at daycare.

Is it normal for a toddler to bite?

If your child is biting at daycare, don’t feel embarrassed. This behavior is to be expected from little ones, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate a propensity for aggression in your child. Some of the common causes of biting include:

  • Attention: Everyone likes attention, whether you’re one or 100. If toddlers seek more interaction, biting is a quick way to get the attention they seek, even if it may be negative.
  • Exploration: One of the reasons why toddlers can’t resist putting just about anything in their mouths is due to the fact that they primarily learn through their senses. It’s important to determine whether your toddler is actually exploring through their mouth or is deliberately biting.
  • Teething: Around five months of age, babies begin teething, biting on objects or people to ease the discomfort of swollen gums.
  • Imitation: Often, toddlers who see another child bite may decide to try it themselves.
  • Self expression: Sometimes toddlers bite simply because their language skills are just starting to develop. Since very young children can’t yet form the words they need to express their emotions, biting can be a form of communication.

How do I encourage my toddler to stop biting at daycare?

There are a few things you can do to keep your toddler from biting at daycare. Always provide positive reinforcement and be firm and calm in your responses. Take the following steps to enforce a “no biting” rule, at home or at daycare:

  • Look for patterns: You can find out what’s triggering your child to bite by looking for patterns and clues about how, when and why they bite. After you identify the triggers, you’ll be able to take care to keep your child more comfortable and relaxed, reducing their urge to bite.
  • Minimize stressors: If you notice that certain situations seem stressful for your toddler, plan ahead. If your toddler has an idea of what their day will be like and what to expect in new situations, she’ll be less likely to bite.
  • Use signs to communicate: Toddlers lack basic verbal communication skills for self expression. As your toddler grows, teach them simple signs to help them communicate. They offer an alternative way for your toddler to express herself, effectively reducing frustration and curbing biting behaviors.

In some cases, it’s normal for a toddler to bite. If you’re concerned about helping your child stop biting at daycare, reach out to My Second Home Early Learning Center. We take a compassionate approach to childcare, offering a supportive and understanding environment for toddlers, our youngest learners and explorers.