Google+ Authentic Parenting: Itsy Bitsy Biter

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Biter

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we're writing letters to ask our readers for help with a current parenting issue. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Dearest reader,

In todays post, which will be included in the Carnival Of Natural Parenting, instead of giving you parenting tips, I am asking for your advice. We all need a little input at times.
When my daughter was teething, she was quite the little biter, occasionnally having a go at the breast. She also used to bite when she was overflowing with love. She would first hug us, give us lots of kisses and all of a sudden bite us. She used to do it out of what seemed an overflow of emotions, either love or anger. We overcame that behavior using the tips I described here.
A while ago, we got a dog, and with it, the biting returned. We're thinking she picked up the biting behavior from the dog when he was younger. There is no pattern to her biting, she just suddenly bites the dog, her daddy, her little friends, babies... We tell her she is hurting the person she is biting (or the dog) and take her off them (she's a real pitbull), but that doesn't seem to work.
Now she knows she is hurting them or her dog (she even sometimes says 'hurt' and then goes off biting the dog), she bit herself a couple off times and said it hurt. But there seems no end to this behavior.
So I was wondering if any of you ever had a biting problem and how you handled it. Any advice is welcome.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by the end of the day April 13 with all the carnival links.)



  1. I don't have a biter, but I have a bitee. Mikko's temptingly chubby cheek was bitten by a girl in his class who has also had a go at several other students and a visiting baby. All I can say is how I've seen the teachers and other parents handle it, which is to continue gently speaking to her about how it hurts when she does that. Like your daughter, she seems to understand and be abashed once she bites, but it hasn't stopped the behavior yet. The teachers try to stop her before she has a chance to lunge. All I can suggest is to keep doing what you're doing and it will presumably resolve itself in time.

  2. Poor little one... You know, whenever she bites, it makes me so ashamed, because you can see people think "you see what the gentle parenting gets her". It's very frustrating that results are so slow

  3. My best friend had this problem when she took her daughter's binky away. She started biting all the time. Apparently, she needed the binky as a crutch to help handle her over-whelming emotions. She's two now and still has her binky, but my friend will only give it to her if she asks for it occasionally and is trying to slowly wean it. If she starts biting my friend will say "are you okay? Do you want a soft blanket or a binky?" and her daughter will usually respond yes and then sit there with it. It ends the biting every time.

    I know a lot of breast-feeding mom's don't offer a binky which I totally understand, but perhaps giving her something that she CAN bite when she doesn't know how to handle the situation would help as it allows her to redirect that without hurting someone. I'm pretty sure this is a stage that all kids go through so hang in there! Best of luck!

  4. Man. Biting the dog? That's a new one for me. We only had hair pulling problems (toddler --> cat), and what solved that was "gentle touches" coupled with lots of vigilance. We had to be proactive to try to stop it before it happened. Good luck!

    ~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

  5. TheMinimalisticLife: I am assuming a binky is a dummy? No she doesn't have one. But it's a good idea though. I think we can try giving her sth to bite in or sth to squeeze when she's overwhelmed

  6. Oh lol. Baby biting dog.

    I think some people are just prone to biting. It feels good, especially when overwhelmed with emotions. I'm a biter. I bite my husband, and I have to fight the urge to bite my babies because I JUST. LOVE. THEM. SO. MUCH.

  7. This question comes up a lot in my line of work. I remind parents and teachers that they have to control what is in their power to control. If the child's behavior can not be changed (they do grow out of it) the environment has to be changed. That means a lot of work for the adults in the child's life. Triggers have to be identified and decreased and prevention is the word of the day. If the biting is done in aggression it usually stops when a child's communication and empathy level increases. If the biting is a sensory issue redirection to appropriate things is the trick. Some kids just bite. Sometimes we just have to be quicker than thay are to save their friends, family, or dog from the fangs!!

  8. How frustrating!!

    I agree that I think this is a phase, however that doesn't lessen the frustration!

    Perhaps it might be useful to see a homeopath. Maybe she bites because something physical is bothering her? Or perhaps an amber necklace might help?

    If you can pick out a pattern of when she bites maybe you can link it to a feeling of stress she might be experiencing and you could diffuse the situation before it happens?

    Best of luck!

    Many blessings...:-)

  9. We had a biting problem, until I realised that she was only biting me when she had been trying to get my attention (repeatedly) and I'd kept on doing what I was doing (in an attempt to get some work done at the computer).

    Once I realised this, I asked her to kiss me on the leg if she needed my attention while I was working and since then she hasn't bitten. Although her biting was only ever with me, not with other people (or animals).

  10. I am interested in all the responses! DS1 was never much of a biter but DS2 (6.5mo old right now) already had taken to biting and finding it HYSTERICALLY funny for some reason.

  11. Hmmm, tough one. She might just not be at the stage yet where she gets that those other things are being hurt by her biting, even when she does it to herself. It's seems almost like one of those repeat behaviors that babies do to test out if the same thing will happen every time. I think the original advice you were using is sound. A calm, firm correction. Just stick with it?

  12. Our youngest went through a biting phase not long after she turned two. She'll be three next month.
    She would bite us or her sister when she got upset. We kept telling her that we don't bite, and had to find other ways for her to let us know she was angry or frustrated, but biting was a big no-no

  13. Thank you so much, ladies. I think I have to agree that it might be just a developmental thing she has to go through, since she doesn't do it out of emotion, to get attention or because she is teething. That being said, it seems to be getting better nowadays.

  14. A bit late, but as an adult who really likes to bite things:Maybe it just feels good to her. Maybe if you give her things it's ok to bite, and make it clear that THIS is for biting and other things are NOT, she won't bite the inappropriate things anymore. Possibly a teething ring, or something else pleasingly resistant?


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