Biting - Topic Overview
Is it normal for a child to bite?
younger than age 3 bite someone else at least once. Most children stop biting
on their own. Biting that happens past age 3 or occurs frequently at any age
may need treatment. Biting is not always intentional, and it rarely causes
serious injury to another person or poses any health risks.
Why do children bite?
Children bite for different
reasons, depending on their age.
- Between 5 and 7 months of age,
children usually bite other people when they feel discomfort around their
mouths or when they are in pain caused by
teething. Most often they bite their caregivers.
Sometimes a young baby bites his or her mother during breast-feeding. Children
of this age learn not to bite as they see and hear the reaction of the person
they have bitten.
- Between 8 and 14 months of age, children usually bite other people when they are excited. Most
often they bite a caregiver or another child close to them. A firm "no" usually
stops these children from biting again.
- Between 15 and 36 months of age, children may bite other people when they are
frustrated or want power or control over another person. Usually they bite
other children. Less frequently they bite their caregivers. Children of this
age usually stop biting as they learn that biting is not acceptable
- After age 3, children usually bite
when they feel powerless or scared, such as when they are losing a fight or
think that they are going to be hurt by another person. Children older than 3
who frequently bite other people need to see a doctor. Biting at this age may be a sign that a child has problems with expressing feelings or
When is my child most likely to bite another child?
Biting occurs in a variety of situations, most often when many
children are together. In the United States, human bites are a common cause of
injury at day care centers.1 Most biting can be
prevented with proper supervision that includes helping children express their
A child of any age who frequently bites
other children may need special arrangements for day care. Parents may be asked
to transfer their child out of a center when biting becomes a continual
problem. The child may need to attend a child care center with staff who are
skilled in dealing with children who bite.
Can biting be a sign of a more serious problem?
Biting in young children usually does not lead to behavior problems at a
later age. But children who persistently bite and show other aggressive
behaviors, especially if they are older than age 3, may have other health or
emotional issues. These children should be seen by a doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions