How to teach a toddler not to bite

What do you do when your toddler realizes this set of sharp teeth in her mouth makes a great weapon against unsuspecting flesh — including yours? Obviously, you can’t bite back — but there are steps parents can take to quell this behavior. Blythe Lipman, baby and toddler expert, offers these pointers to get the biter under control.

angry toddler

Step 1: Respond firmly

Say an emphatic “no” every time your child bites. Consistency is vital with this step. If you laugh at the biter or respond in anger, it will confuse the child and counteract your efforts to change the unacceptable behavior.

Step 2: Educate

Get a child’s book about biting, such as Teeth are not For Biting by Elizabeth Verdick, part of the “Best Behavior” series. Reading the book with your child helps them understand how teeth should and should not be used.

Step 3: Redirect

Crunching on an apple or other snack will help divert your toddler’s urge to bite something he or she should not. Use the opportunity to reinforce how teeth are and are not to be used.

Step 4: Other ways to redirect

Play a game with your child. Something as simple as a ball or a rattle will take the child’s attention away from the undesirable behavior. Blow bubbles! This is a fun activity that involves the mouth and lips — and nobody gets hurt.

All of these tips can help divert the offender’s actions, but they must be used in conjunction with the first tip — parents must be completely consistent, with a serious “No, do not bite!” when their child sinks their teeth where they ought not. With patience and persistence, parents can successfully retrain their biting toddler.

More on biting

When toddlers bite other children
Tips to end biting
Banish baby biting


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