Baby Vampires

Toddlers biting is not that unusual,” say the childless pediatrician.

Please resist the urge to shake the doctor until her teeth rattle. There is little comfort in knowing most children bite at one time or the other.


So why do they bite?

Psychologists admit most children have bitten someone at least once, or been on the receiving end of a bite. Fear, anger and frustration top the list of reasons why children bite. Someone having bitten the child is the next reason.

Hormonal Emotional

Major, and even some minor, changes in a child’s environment can cause emotional upset a toddler does not have sufficient verbal communication skills to express. This frustration, born of anger or fear, manifests in aggression.

What do I do?

Investigate the nature of the circumstances in which the child bit to determine why. New baby, new home and/or new school are often the triggers for aggressive behavior. Toddlers do not have an understanding of their feelings and the words to say, “I don’t like this.”

This particular investigation should include all areas where the child is involved, including play groups and babysitting situations. Identifying the source of the behavior is necessary to keeping it from recurring.

This is too (much) fun!

Some children will bite to show they are excited or over-stimulated. They choose biting to change the focus of the activity. Time to calm the child is in order. Time out or a nap work equally as well.

Your Little Vampire


Other children will bite as a misguided attempt at affection. When the little vampire sinks his fangs into your shoulder, before you snap, gauge her reaction to what she has done.

I wuv you!

If your child appears to be proud of the love nip, chances are he has mistaken biting for kissing. Gently showing him the difference will make the distinction more clear to him. Do this by kissing, not biting.

Do you taste good?

How’s that?

Does she have a quizzical look? She may be trying to see what effect biting has on you. The best reaction is to cloud up as if to cry and explain biting hurts. She may have seen this behavior elsewhere, or been bitten herself. Remember, baby’s mouth is where all information goes to be processed first.

Look at me!

Make sure that she will be welcomed at daycare, play school or preschool by checking with the caregiver. She may be gauging her playmates’ reactions to this new attention-getting technique she has discovered. She may have been on the other end of a bite.

Nothing Personal

The most important thing to keep in mind is children have no instinct to attack one another or you. Children’s primary focus is to explore, learn and play with their friends, family and siblings. Once you pinpoint the reason behind the biting, curbing it is really simple.


How many of your (grand) children bit a parent or another child? How did you handle it?

(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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  1. I only had one kid bite, and that was after she was cornered by another toddler behind a screen, and said victim wanted to “kiss her.” The other girl came out crying with these big bite marks on her cheek. I realize in to my girl, the other little one was attacking her, but it sure was embarrassing in front of all these Moms!

    • The “bite back” is more common than you might imagine. Often, the biter is listed as the aggressor, when in fact, the bite was defensive.

  2. Great post, again, Red!

    I see too much of little kids, preschool and kindergarten, that are just plain old bullies. At that age, there should be no aggression, it must be due to the home environment… or, at least let’s hope so, or there might be a lot of Hannibal Lecters out there pretty soon…

    • Like I told Liz, the “bite back” is the most common. Even when they are biting the wrong person. It is a vent for frustration. Too many parents punish children for biting rather than find and eliminate (or mitigate) the cause.

      Just hoping to raise a little awareness.

  3. I wish you’d make my neighbor aware! She lets the scream bloody blue murder, and her boy, at 2, was kicked out of prekindergarten for biting and licking other kids! They are the reason I get little sleep… parents need to be parents and not be too worried about “being like their own parents”

    • Perhaps, if they were more like their parents, their children would not behave badly…Hmm.

  4. Every one of them has bitten….. Kid biting is like licking to taste, it is experimental information-collecting and only becomes habitual when the little biters realize they can inflict damage, get a big reaction and get attention, get revenge, garner a cookie, or happily discover how to insert the contagion of ‘baby-biter-poison’ into their chosen victims.
    Btw..Red, your advice “cloud up and let them know it hurts” works for puppys too. Just say “Ouch” when you get nipped and you’re on the way to training both puppies AND biters. “:)

    • Mammals are a pretty basic order. What works for one, often works for another. Red.

  5. I was a serial biter, but only bit in extreme self defence.

    I was battered and bullied at scouts so I bit my abuser only for the injury he suffered to be used as an excuse by the absent Scout Leader for the attack – he should NEVER have left us alone!!!

    Needless to say I didn’t go back and was beaten by my father for ’embarrassing him’…

    Love and hugs!


    • This is a good example of the adults getting it wrong by not investigating the situation. Absolutely, more supervision was necessary. Refer back to the inadequacy of a video babysitter. {HUGZ} Red.

  6. bear

     /  January 2, 2012

    Then there’s just a mean child who does it just because he or she can. I have seen it happen and the parent of the child said she just doesn’t know any better. I wonder what would happen if I would have punched that parents lights out, and as darkness set in I would simply say I didn’t know any better! For whatever reason a child bites, it is not acceptable and if it happens on a regular basis then get the little bat checked!!!!

    • And here I will argue meanness. Undisciplined, yes. At the age we are speaking about, 18 months-3 years, the mentality of “bully” is not yet formed.

      It is 100% the responsibility of the parent to prevent this behavior. The child which continues to bite is seeking attention which is otherwise lacking. Whether the child is biting out of frustration or self-defense.

      It does become sport, if you will, because there is a flurry of attention which surrounds it…from the bitee to the adults in charge. In the frustrated child, it is a relief valve. In the bullied child, it is a way to get someone else to pay attention.

  7. None yet. I’m crossing my fingers.

    • Got an extra wish coming from here. This is a monster, but more common that you would guess. I was lucky in not being a statistic in our normal take-the-stat-X-3.94-to-get-ours kind of way. Of all of ours, we only had one biter, who only bit one time…and bit me. Red.

  8. I don’t believe my children bit me – or at least never more than once. My grandson, however, is another matter! At age 2, he started biting. I tried everything I could think of, including the ‘biting back’ advice I was given.

    One day we were wrestling in the bed before taking a nap and he bit the snot out of me (again). I bit him back. He bit me again. I bit him back. He bit me again and then stuck out his arm for me to bite him – it had turned into a game that he seemed to enjoy! I had over 50 bites from him already that visit.

    What finally worked was making a sad face and turning away from him, refusing to play with him when he bit me. It killed him. He would do everything in his power to get me to play with him again. It did not take long for him to get the point and he never bit again. It took about a month for all the bites to heal up though! My granddaughter doesn’t seem to have this need, but she’s not quite 2 yet.

    Good post 🙂

    • You’d think I knew a little something about this 😉 Glad it worked for you, but wish you would have gotten the message sooner. If you try the “bite back” method, and it does not work the first time, it is not going to work. Try what has worked for mothers for millenia: Guilt.

  9. hahahaha. loved the title and them to the biting issue. My daughter bit another kid only once when she was a toddler. Never again. She always did feel worse by disappointing mommy than anything else.
    Now, if I could keep the (now 18 year old) from nibbling on boys at college all would be well in Trans-sexual Transylvania.. Or as they call it out here in the wild wild west, San Fransisco


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