Ask Dr. Dina: How can I stop my toddler from biting everything?

Got a mini Dracula at your house? Here's what to do when your tot wants to chow down on everything—even you.

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Our toddler is biting everything—and everyone—in sight. What can we do? 

Toddlers explore with their mouths. They see something new, and in it goes. This behaviour often increases when children are teething, as gentle pressure on the gums can remedy teething pain. If this is the case with your kid, offer teething toys or even your own clean finger to massage her gums. Some toddlers bite when they’re frustrated, often when they lack the words to express their emotions. Biting is aggressive conduct and potentially dangerous to other kids and even adults. When my kids have bitten me, my strategy has been swift: I give a stern “no,” and place my child down and turn my back. I call this “active ignorance.” Kids who bite are looking for some kind of response, whether neutral (“now, now Julia, be nice”) or negative (“Julia, never do that again!”). Don’t give that behaviour any added attention.

Dina Kulik is a paediatrician and emergency room doctor in Toronto and mom to three boys, who are five, three and 17 months. Send her your kids’ health questions at editors@todaysparent.com

Read more:
How to stop toddlers from biting
What you need to know about your kid’s first molars
7 teething myths

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