5 Tips to Stop your Toddler Biting

Is toddler biting a daily struggle in your home? 

Your toddler bit you? Or is biting at daycare

Or you notice your toddler is biting toys and furniture.

You hear that it’s normal, that ¼ of all toddlers bite. 

But this seems above and beyond normal. 

You are constantly alert and stressed at playdates and you are so embarrassed when you arrive at daycare and see the daycare teacher’s exasperated expression. 

Today we are diving into 5 possible reasons and solutions for toddler biting. 

Don’t let toddler biting become a daily battle- make an action plan for toddler biting today. 

toddler teeth

What are you making toddler biting mean? 

OTHolly is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate I earn a few pennies when you purchase from my links. You can find more in my disclaimer

I want to start out by saying that I’ve been in your shoes. 

I know first hand how challenging it can be as a mom to feel like you have no control over your toddlers behaviour and biting. 

To not understand how your sweet baby suddenly turned into a T-Rex

To be so triggered by their behaviour and not understand where (in such a short time of parenting!) you could have gone so wrong. 

And to feel helpless in changing this behaviour of biting. 

If you only have one take away from this post let it be: 

This is not your fault. You are not failing as a parent. 

 

Biting is an expression of a need- today we will be investigating what that need is and how to fill it. 

 

5 Tips to Stop your Toddler Biting 

toddler biting fruit

Toddler Biting Reason 1: TEETHING

Is your toddler biting when he is teething?

You may notice that 

  • Biting seems to come with some expressions of pain
  • Your toddler is abit fussier when it comes to eating
  • It’s been happening for a few days to a week or two but not longer than that 
  • Your toddler seems to bite in a certain part of mouth 

How to best support your toddler

  • Cold cloths
  • Teething toys
  • Teething gel 

If the reason for your toddler biting is teething, it’s important that we frame that correctly. If every time my toddler bites, I say to her “Bad, no biting” or basically frame the action as something behavioural she may then latch onto the idea that biting is the way that she expresses her emotions. 

Obviously that’s not what I want. 

So it’s good to say something along the lines of “Oww, your teeth are really sore, let’s try biting this chewy toy instead”.

 

spilt milk because of clumsy toddler

Toddler Biting Reason 2: PROPRIOCEPTIVE SEEKER

Is your toddler also “high energy”, always seems to be moving,  crashes into things, enjoys falling? 

This could point to the reason for biting being that your toddler is dysregulated or seeking proprioceptive input

What is Proprioception: 

Proprioception is how your body understands it’s own movement

When you actively move (for example: you hit a ball) your muscles send sensory information to your brain about that movement. 

This is how your brain knows to then tell your muscles to re-adjust or better that movement (you try to hit the ball harder next time). 

However, proprioception also plays a very important role in regulating our sensory systems

In other words, it can play some amazing ninja zen tricks on your brain to make you feel calm and alert

Have you ever experienced this? Feeling better able to concentrate after a run? Or like stretching out your muscles kind of refreshes you? 

If our kids have difficulty interpreting the proprioceptive sense correctly or they need more of it to regulate themselves (stay calm) they will “seek” through heavy or resisted movements.  

Behaviours commonly associated with proprioceptive seeking are: 

  • Being clumsy 
  • Pushing and crashing into things
  • Falling on purpose
  • Seeming to be high energy
  • Seems to be always running and jumping and moving 
  • Hitting AND…. BITING when unprovoked

How to best support your toddler

If you think your toddler is biting because they are a proprioceptive seeker or are easily dysregulated, the best thing to do is see an OT. 

An Occupational Therapist will be able to: 

  • Correctly evaluate your toddlers sensory development 
  • Help your toddler better develop their sensory processing skills 
  • Provide tons of practical daily tricks or a sensory diet to help your toddler fill up their proprioceptive “hunger” so that they won’t need to bite. 

             You may also like: 10 signs of toddler sensory issues 

toddlers play in sand pit

Toddler Biting Reason 3: NUTRIENT DEFICIENCY OR PICA

Is your toddler aslo eating non-food items? Or chewing furniture? 

This could be because of a: 

  • Nutrient deficiency (like lacking iron)
  • Pica (only applicable if eating non food items for at least a month)

How to best support your toddler: 

Your pediatrician will be able to check if your toddler’s biting, eating non food items and chewing things because of a nutrient deficiency or PICA. 

I would suggest taking with you a list of concrete examples or photos of what your toddler has been biting or eating.  

toddler blowing bubbles

Toddler Biting Reason 4: ORAL SENSORY SEEKING

Does your toddler also put everything in their mouth? Or lick things?  This could be because of oral fixation or oral sensory seeking
What is oral sensory seeking:  Have you ever noticed how nursing, sucking a pacifier or a bottle is (generally) calming for babies?  Or that babies seem to be examining a toy when they put it in their mouths?  Our mouths are full of sensory receptors- both for learning (discrimination) and for calming us (regulation).  Sometimes when these sensory systems aren’t quite developing on track, we may see that our kids are seeking these sensations (in their mouths) in an effort to better explore their environment or regulate themselves. 

Behaviours commonly associated with oral sensory seeking in toddlers are: 

  • Mouthing everything
  • Liking things
  • Resistance to weaning off a pacifier
  • Chewing shirt or blankets
  • Sucking lip or thumb
  • AND… BITING when unprovoked
If you think that this might be the reason for your toddler biting, first rule out that they are not teething.  It’s important to say that in younger toddlers (below 24 months) much of this mouthing is normal developmentally. 

How to best support your toddler

  • Oral stimulation activities: like blowing, eating crunchy food, resistive sucking from a bottle
  • Oral sensory seeking because of a sensory development issue generally won’t be outgrown. Therefore, you might want to look at getting your child some extra support by an Occupational Therapist or Speech and Language Therapist. 
  • Sensory chew toys or chewy necklaces like this:
toddler walking with parents

Toddler biting reason 5: EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION

When is your toddler biting? Could it be a way that your toddler expresses her emotions?  Or maybe it’s a combination of emotional reasons as well as one of the reasons mentioned above? 

Toddler biting can be due to a wide range of emotions:

  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Over excitement 
  • Stress
  • And many others

How to best support your toddler: 

  1. Prevent it from happening An idea for doing this could be done by changing up the environment or filling up your toddlers emotional bucket with more shared laughter
  2. Physically (and calmly) stop your toddler or redirect him when you see that he is about to bite.  
  3. Work on emotional intelligence  and social skills 

You may also find these books helpful 

  1. Teeth are Not for Biting 
  2. Little Dinos don’t Bite
  3. People Don’t Bite People

WHAT DOES NOT CAUSE TODDLER BITING?

I just want to point out that none of these causes for toddler biting are that you are not a good enough mom or that your toddler is a bad kid

And honestly, don’t we all need reminding that we are all “okay” when raising toddlers. 

So which one of these 5 reasons best fits for your toddler and what is your plan of action

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *