How I Got My Toddler to Stop Biting


I used to call him baby vampire, just to keep it light. I couldn’t make sense of how my sweet lump of babiness had turned into a wild animal that craved his teeth in my flesh. He bit my neck when I cuddled him, my leg when I was cooking dinner, and my forearm if I stretched it past his face to reach for something.

Bewilderment became frustration and then anger. I got mad, really mad. I gave him endless crib time-outs, long explanations that I was his mommy and he shouldn’t bite his mommy. I finally just pleaded for him to stop. He made up songs about not biting, “Don’t bite mommy, don’t bite daddy, don’t bite dampa, la, la, la.” But he didn’t stop!

I decided to get serious and do some research. This is what I came up with, and what, thank goodness, finally got my toddler to stop biting.

  1. As hard as it is, try to be understanding and don’t take it personally. Our little ones are majorly lacking in impulse control, since that part of their brains isn’t fully formed yet. Being compassionate with them is not only nice, it also helps to curb the biting in general as it takes some of the intensity out of your reaction. Toddlers love an intense reaction and will do what they can, such as chomping you, to get it.
  2. Try not to let them bite in the first place. If he bites your leg when you’re making dinner, pull a chair over for him to stand on and “help” you. If she bites you when you hold her over your shoulder, hold her facing outward. If you know the bite is about to happen from the look on their sweet faces, gently and firmly say, “We are not going to bite,” and remove yourself from the situation.
  3. Instead of giving your little one a time-out, give yourself a time-out. Go to the bathroom, and even shut the door for a moment if you know your baby is safe. Splash cool water on your face, take a deep breath. Your little one will miss you, and hopefully not to do whatever he did to make you leave.
  4. Give her stuff to bite. If you see that wild animal look, have a teether ready, or a washcloth, even the couch! Anything other than you.
  5. Take my neighbor Naomi’s advice, or admonishment, spoken in her lovely Trinidadian accent, “Girl! His gums are just itchin’! Don’t get yourself worked up about it!”

Then one day, you’ll realize that you haven’t been bitten in a while. The endless and excruciating process called teething will be done, and the wild baby animal will be tamed. Then you can celebrate by taking him to the dentist!