January 11, 2007,
K.E. asks from Fresno, CA on January 10, 2007
14 Month Old Is Biting
My 14 month old son has started biting and I don't know how to stop it! He like to bite mine and my husband toes and any other body part he can sink his teeth into. He'll also bite the furniture and his toys. He's starting to get his molars and I know that's part why he's biting but I want to put a stop to it asap. When he does bite us, we'll tell him no, but he just smiles and tries to bite us again like it's a game. We are very carefull not to smile or laugh when he bites and we say no very sharply. He doesn't like teething rings or frozen washcloths. And I'm not sure how to discipline him. He's too young to understand what a timeout is, and I'm not sure how I feel about spanking. I know most kids go through a stage like this and I would appreciate the advice of those moms that have been there and delt with it! Thanks!
M.P. answers from Portland on January 11, 2007
Because biting is a normal response to sore gums. I do not recommend any sort of punishment such as biting back and using hot sauce or even time outs. In the first place he's too young to understand any of that. He has no reasoning ability yet. And he doesn't know it's inappropriate. He also needs to bite to get those teeth in.
My approach is to hold his head or in some way separate his teeth from being close enough to your anatomy to be able to bite. I'd also say no bite because he will eventually learn what that means. And I'd give him things that he can bite. Try different things. One suggestion that I've received is giving him a green onion to chew on. Crackers are good. A large vinyl eraser. Toys that can be chewed. Even a stuffed animal.
I've put my grandson down on the floor more than once because he wanted to bite me. Even after his teeth were in he'd bite in anger as well as hit, kick, throw his head back. On the floor he'd go. Moving him stops the interaction and the ability to bite etc. I am matter of fact, tell him that hurts, and recently (he's 3 now) he's spontaneously given me a hug. His mother has always told him that it hurts and she wants a hug. We hug him when he is hurt.
I do think that the biting, hitting, kicking is a natural but primitive way to express feelings. It's the parents' job to teach more appropriate ways to express feelings. It will take the baby time to understand. If we do hurtful things back at them they are learning it's OK to hurt someone.
I don't always succeed in being this calm. When I'm buckling up his car seat and he slugs me so hard it brings tears to my eyes, I've instintively hit back. But that has never defused the situation.
I usually just want to solve the problem and move on but I learned that I can't do that with biting for whatever reason (teething or anger), hitting, kicking etc. I have to be firm while insisting that this behaviour is unacceptable. Time outs work for some kids but I don't think they work for biting while teething.
I also believe it's a stage but I've seen an awful lot of adults who still handle stress and anger with hitting and fighting. And I think that often times they don't outgrow that stage because they were punished in such a way that they became more anger instead of being shown by example more acceptable ways of expressing anger.
K.O. answers from Portland on January 10, 2007
I don't think he's too young for timeouts. One minute per year. Be consistent about following through, and actually give him a timeout when you say you're going to.
N.H. answers from Honolulu on January 11, 2007
Reading other posts, yep, it's all about CONSTANT and CONSISTENT reminding before he gets a chance to do it. Try to recognize the signs he's getting ready to do it. It'll help to remind before when you can.
Just remember, it WILL pass!
N.T. answers from Los Angeles on January 10, 2007
I have a 17 mo. old son who also bites when he gets mad. My friend told me to try a dab of hotsauce in his mouth and it works. He was so upset when I did it but now when he goes to bite all I have to do is say "do you want me to get the hotsauce?" I have only had to do it twice in 3 mo. And I would recommend (for consistancy purposes) to go to del taco or taco bell and get a few of there packets to keep in you diaper bag or purse in case he bites while you are out. Good luck.
C.S. answers from Las Vegas on January 11, 2007
Hi K., I am pretty frustrated with my 14 m/o biting also. She also smiles after she successfully bites. But I find she does it most often when she is tired, so I always try to deal with that problem too. Because it is alarming and it hurts, I will usually put her in the crib for a minute and tell her while I am walking her over there that biting hurts and we don't bite. When she is done with her time out, I am sure the first thing I do is give her a hug and ask for a hug from her. I remind her one more time that we don't bite and that it is over. That will last for about a week at a time. Doesnt work in public as there is no crib.
M.D. answers from Los Angeles on January 11, 2007
Hi there. My son went throught the same thing, biting toes, our leather couch, pretty much anything he could get his hands on. If we reacted to it, it reinforced the biting as attention. Not that my son necessarily wanted attention, but he thought it was funny. We started ignoring him when he would bite things and it stopped after a few times. I know it sounds too easy, but it worked for us. If he is teething, have you tried the Hylands Teething tablets? You can get them at Target, they are very helpful with the pain a toddler gets with new teeth coming in.
B.D. answers from Portland on January 10, 2007
At the risk of offending or sounding cruel I will say this. When he bites try taking the same body part on him and biting back GENTLY but enough to cause discomfort. After you do this tell him that is what it feels like when he bites you. Make a very sad face and use a sad voice also when you tell him it hurts. If you don't like the biting back idea then go with the sad routine every time he does it. Say ouch that hurts please don't hurt me. I did have to go to extremes with one of my children when the biting didn't stop. When he bit me I would put tape on his mouth for 2 minutes while I talked to him about why the tape was there and I would not let him remove the tape by himself. I told him that the tape would keep him from biting and that it hurts very much. When I took the tape off I gave him a kiss and told him that kisses sre much better that biting because that is what you do to show you love someone. Hope this helps B.
J.T. answers from Portland on January 10, 2007
Hi, my son is 18 months. The biting seems to be under control now, but I still push his head away from me when he gets too close, and tell him "NO BITE" as a reminder. He has been biting since he was about 10 months. At that time, his teeth started coming in fast and furious, and nothing soothed him. He didn't want anything cold near his gums, and teethers didn't seem to soothe him. He started biting. He would bite any body part that came near him. He would even bite the carpet if nothing else was around. When it finally got better I was at my wits end, so hang in there. When he really bit me hard, I would pop his mouth hard enough to get his attention and tell him "NO BITE!" But I tried to always stick with "no bite" only. The last time he bit me, he bit my tummy (I'm pregnant). He left teeth marks and a bruise. It was terrible. Thank goodness it has gotten better. Hang in there, and continue what you are doing. He isn't being malicious, his teeth and gums just hurt! My son now carries around a blanket with him that he is constantly biting. It has helped alot. He is getting his last 4 chompers in (for now), his incisers and the ones directly below them. Yep, at the same time. He really has been a trooper. Oh, and as soon as he is biting his blanket a lot, or we think he might bite us, we give him Tylenol.
So just hang in there and keep telling him no. He loves you and isn't trying to be mean.
Good luck, J.