Advice for Parent of 13 Month Old "Biter"

Updated on January 18, 2008
D.C. asks from Goldsboro, NC
16 answers

My baby, 13 months old, has begun biting. Initially, it would happen when she would try to kiss us...she would end up biting instead. Now it seems to be when she is over tired. What is the best way to stop this habit at this age? Friends have suggested biting her back. I don't want to resort to that, it seems that could backfire too easily. She isn't in daycare, but she bit 2 children in Sunday School 2 weeks ago. Any feedback would be appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the input! My biggest concern is that my oldest son (now 16) was a biter at around 2 years old. He would bite indiscriminately. He was also in daycare full time. He was more verbal than the other kids (he never bit us or his younger brother)and his teachers and day care director thought that was causing his biting. He could talk to them but they couldn't talk to him. I don't know...we ended up putting him in a home daycare with fewer children. That helped, but as he grew he became somewhat of a bully. He's getting better now as he has matured, but I don't want my little girl to become a bully like he was. Since I believe she does it more when she's overtired, I put her to bed when she starts to bite...but I don't want her to think of her bed as punishment, either. At 13 months, she is too young to understand time another 6 months she will understand it more. I also sometimes give her a light pop on the mouth. Enough to hurt her feelings, but not to actually hurt her. She cries, I tell her "no biting, it hurts mommy" but so far it isn't doing anything. Maybe it's because she isn't too verbal yet and she can't express what she wants or needs. If so, she will outgrow it as she learns new words. I certainly hope!!

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answers from Norfolk on

I'm a mother of a biter. Mainly, you have to let them outgrow it. Not saying that in the meantime to just let him bite freely. Try to reinforce being gentle. Also look for the triggers.

My son bites out of frustration. The amount of incidences had dropped significantly when he learned to say the word no. The more he learns to communicate, the less he bites. Now it's down to little spats with other kids over toys. It happens rarely.

Biting is not a learned behavior, it's instinctual. It's going to take a lot of time and effort for it to stop. There is no quick fix to the problem.

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answers from Columbia on

I bit my son back and made him apologize to the children he had bitten once he understood what he had done. Biting your child back doesn't have to make a big mark or anything, it just has to be enough to send the message that it hurts and/or it isn't nice.
Addison never bit again at daycare.



answers from Norfolk on

This one can be tricky! I think you have narrowed down the cause which is a good thing! Now to find the thing that works for you and your daughter.

My little one likes to bite when she wants something that another child has. Now what I do with her and the children in my class that bite is tell them in a strong voice that I don't like that! and put them in time out. With one particular child I was keeping at home, I took her and sat her down with her back to me while I was sitting on the floor. I paid no attention to the fact that she was crying and let her work it out on her own.

Some of the best things that I have found that work with most children are time out and ignoring them while they are in time out.

I hope this helps at least a little.



answers from Wilmington on

My youngest was a biter... I think because she just couldn't handle her big sis being able to get to things quicker and just general toddler frustration that she couldn't do what she wanted to.

That said... it is a phase... and whether you hound her for the next two months or just say a basic, "No biting" and send her on her way is up to you... I think its kinda like potty-training, it'll take care of itself so long as you let her know where the line is. My kids are pretty sensitive and don't go for the big show, do what works for your baby. I also didn't have any luck with time outs or that at this age...



answers from Providence on

Hi D.,

I'm not sure what the answer is here, but I can tell you the LAST thing you should do is bite the child back! Having been given the same advice - and disregarded that completely, the only thing I did in that case, was every time my child would do that, I would give a stern "NO!" and after a while, they understand that's not the right thing to do.

No 13 month old understands that if you bite her back what that means. They don't understand the concept that they are hurting someone when they do it, the child is just probably experiementing or testing their boundaries. Consistency is the key.

Good Luck! And PLEASE don't bite the child back! :-)



answers from Raleigh on

I wish I could give advice on this one. I am in the sam situation, I have a 13 month old who has just started biting. He is not in daycare either and I di not know where he gets it from. I have tried biting him back and that doe snot work either. Good luck with it, let us know if you find something that works!!!



answers from Spartanburg on

I went thru the same thing with my son. And I agree with what someone wrote already, you have find out who or what is making him bite. Unfortunately for me, it was ME! If I left him with a babysitter, which wasn't often at all, he would be mad at me. Or if he just basically got excited, like running around, etc.. He would bump into the back of my legs and I think he just didn't know what to do and he would bite. I was told by several people to bite back and I did try that, but I can honestly tell you, it did not work. Maybe with some kids it does, but I agree, finding the reason for the biting is the most important thing. Maybe there can be a different resolution for you. Wish I had more to offer, buy my son just had to grow out of it. And to be honest, that stage didn't last very long. At the time, it felt like it though!

Good luck!



answers from Myrtle Beach on

I can't believe someone suggested biting your baby! That is appalling! I had the same problem with my son when he was about that age. What I did, when he bit me, was gently pull him away from me to arm's length and firmly say (but not too loudly or in a mean voice) "No biting!" It took a little while for it to work, but eventually he got the point. The firmness of your voice conveys to her that you are serious. She is not too young to learn the word "no," you just have to be consistent with it. Hope this helps--I'm just telling you from my experience what worked for me and my son.



answers from Myrtle Beach on

My son used to be a biter and he would latch on and not let go. It started getting scary. One day he bit me so hard I cried and I took his little arm and bit him back. NOT HARD, just enough to get his attention. It hurt his feelings more than it hurt him and then I explained to him that that was how I felt every time he bit me. He has never bit me again. He bit another child and I explained to him again that if he bit anyone again that he would get bit back and he never did it again. It sounds harsh but he needs to know that it hurts when he bites.



answers from Charleston on

You could try thumping her lip lightly to get her to stop. It worked on my son when he started biting around that age.



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Norfolk on

Does she only bite you or her siblings as well?? First you have to figure out the trigger for her. I asked who she bites because my 4 year old had a biting spell this past summer. She was only biting her older brother (6) and never in front of me or my husband. Finally one day while the two were playing a game they started fighting over a chair. They did not know I was watching and I wanted to see how they would solve the problem. Well my son decided to sit on my daughter. She could not move so in her mind the only response was to bite him to get him off of her.
After seeing this I realized that she was biting my son as a kind of last resort when he was being rough with her because she could not compete with him physically. I sat them both down and walked them through what happened. I explained to my son that she was biting him because she was frustrated and angry and did not know how to express that to him. Then I explained to my daughter that when she bites him it really hurts and does not solve anything because he doesn't know why she was doing it.

They both realized that they were at fault. It took a while to get my daughter to use her words when she was upset so for about a month she would be put in time out if she bit him and she was reminded that she needed to tell him if she was mad or frustrated. She hasn't bitten him in at least 6 months.

So now after that big explanation I will say...that won't work for a toddler! lol Your daughter can't use words to tell you what's the matter so you each time she bites, think about what preceeded the incident. It may take a few times to see a pattern so it may help to write things down like time of day, who she bit, and what activity was going on (bath time, bed time). Then if you see a pattern you can avoid that trigger or try to help your daughter get through it.
I'm sorry I wrote so much. I just hope at least one little bit can help you out!



answers from Charlotte on

Welcome to my world. My 1 yr old son started doing this when he started teething but only when he had several teeth coming in at once. Then he started doing it b/c he thinks its funny, the way people react when he does it. He also has a 3 yr old sister who he constantly tries to bite when he doesnt like something she does or just b/c.
I started telling Emily the 3 yr old to bite him back and take up for herself when he bites her b/c he done it so often and it worked. He doesn't do it no where near as often and now if you catch him b/f the act, all you have to say is no biting and he doesn't do it.
I also find that sometimes it looks like he does it as a reflex, when his mouth touches something he opens it and doesnt know what to do sometimes, so he bites.

Also yeah I was like you I didn't want to resort to biting him, but thats the only thing that worked. I only had to do it twice. All I did was put pressure on him until he started to make a crying noise like he was getting ready to cry and then I stopped, that way it wouldnt leave a bruise or anything, and I know I didnt hurt him badly, just enough to let him know I meant business.
It worked for us. If all else fails try it this way.

Good Luck



answers from Myrtle Beach on

That is so hard to deal with because they hurt other children and sometime the parents get upset. Our little Ave was biting a lot. And she was fast. At the little play area at the mall or at church. What worked for us. Avi, spent 3min in time out everytime she would bite. Being consistant was the most important and other parents were a little more understanding when they could see that she was being disciplened It was not easy.And it took about 2 months or so to relax when she was around other children. She even bit the dog. LOL
Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! J.



answers from Richmond on

I don't think you should bite her back. She is too young to understand what you are trying to teach her by doing that.

My daughter bites sometimes, usually to show affection, while she's breastfeeding, or because she is teething really hard at the time. I firmly tell her "no biting--that hurts Mommy (or whomever)" and give her something she can bite on, and remove her from the situation. But if she does it when you aren't around, there may be more involved. Maybe this advice from Dr. Sears will help:



answers from Charlottesville on

Hi D.,

My two children started biting me even earlier. It is one of the reasons I stopped breastfeeding after 10 and 9 months respectively.

I would recommend not biting back, but giving your child something else to bite, such as a teething ring or frozen berries. They are still teething at that age and she is also exploring her surroundings. Biting her will only teach her it's okay to do it -- the exact opposite of what you want!

Every time she bites, give her an alternative. You may wish to say, "Biting people hurts them -- you can bite this!" Advise the Sunday School teacher of your method.

It's tough when they catch you off guard. You can also show them, gently, how biting hurts by laying your teeth on the child's arm. I would advise against even doing that. Using words, ultimately, makes a greater impact.

My kids are now 5 & 7. They've resorted to using 'biting' words! It never ends. Sigh!


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