Why do toddlers bite?

Why do toddlers bite?

posted : 29/Oct/2018


Toddler Biting Behaviour Strategies

It is not uncommon for toddlers to develop a biting behaviour at home or at child care, but it can prove to be a challenging conversation to have with your little one. The first step is to avoid a situation that may intensify the action. Learning to identify the underlying cause will help achieve a positive response from your child and curb their biting behaviour.

Why do toddlers bite?

Children may bite because they’re looking for gum relief as a result of teething. They could be using their mouth to explore a new toy or an object that has an appealing colour or texture. Or, they can simply be imitating another child to see what reaction they will get. The undesired behaviour of biting other people can also be an expression of how a child is feeling, chaotic and overwhelming environments can also trigger this. Toddlers who lack the language and communication skills will often bite to get their feeling of anger, fear or frustration across when they can’t articulate these feelings through words or positive actions.

Identifying the cause:

Observing your child and identifying what environment triggers this biting behaviour will provide you with the information required to develop strategies to stop this form of negative expression.  Often there are signals that will present before the bite happens which should give you the opportunity to intervene and implement an alternate positive action.

Do and Don’t Biting Behaviour Strategies:


  • It is important that you communicate and act calmly if, and when, you have the opportunity to step in.
  • Encourage your child to use their words, particularly if biting is being used as a defense mechanism in a situation that they’re not comfortable in.
  • Reinforce positive behaviour when you witness your toddler using another communication method.
  • Meet your child's sensory needs by providing them with a variety of foods and teething toys
  • Redirect the child to an activity that will calm them if they are in an environment that may trigger them to bite.


  • Don’t yell, raise your voice or punish your child, this reaction may cause them to repeat the behaviour.
  • Never bite your child back to demonstrate how it feels to be the recipient of such behaviour. This demonstrates that biting can be used to solve a problem.
  • Avoid giving too much attention to this behaviour, this is sometimes what the toddler is trying to achieve. 

If you notice that your child has developed a biting behaviour or is being bitten by another child, it’s important that you advise your child care team. At AppleBerries Early Education Service, our educators are extremely observant and experienced when it comes to implementing positive strategies and working with parents to overcome this behaviour.  In the instance where your toddlers biting habit is progressively getting worse or becoming more and more unpredictable, we recommend that you speak with your child’s doctor to explore other ways to deal with it and ensure that there is no medical reason for this behaviour.


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