How to Deal With a Biting Baby

If baby bites, it can be very effective to calmly remove baby from the breast and say nothing (or perhaps make a calm comment like "Oh? Don't want to nurse right now?"), then end the nursing session for a bit.

That was the sort of advice I found online several years ago after my child bit me. I'd launched into a full-panic Internet search using terms like "BABY" + "HAS THE BITE FORCE OF A RABIES-INFESTED ROTTWEILER" + "WHAT IS INFANT RETURN & DEFECTIVE POLICY," and I'd hoped for something more useful. You know, like a scientific article assuring me I hadn't given birth to Damien from The Omen.

The thing was, he didn't bite me while he was nursing or anything like that. He hauled off and bit me because he was pissed off.


I can actually remember what the tantrum was about, even though it happened at least five years ago. He'd wrapped my belt around his neck (!) and was toddling around yelling "NECKIE! NECKIE!" (his word at the time for "necklace"), and when I took it away from him, he immediately launched into Full Meltdown Mode. I picked him up and held him horizontally, preparing to ferry him into the other room where I could perhaps distract him ... and that's when he suddenly latched onto my forearm like some sort of blood-sucking lamprey eel.

He wasn't screwing around, either: he bit hard enough to leave a silver-dollar-sized bruise, complete with an O-shaped double arch of teeth marks.

It was painful in more ways than one (did I not carry this child inside my own BODY for, what was it, eleventy billion months in a row?), and I reacted with severity. I said "NO" in a Darthlike tone I'm not sure he had ever heard before, then took his arm and dragged him a bit closer while I spoke directly into his face. "NO BITING."

A few minutes later, I showed him the bite marks on my arm and sadly told him that he hurt Mama, and that biting was bad. I remember that he became very serious and quiet and just looked at me, all eyes. I told him that I loved him, that I wasn't mad at him, but that I needed him to understand that biting was never, ever okay.

I was really worried after that. It wasn't so much that I was scared of being bitten—although let's be honest, that shit hurt—but he was in daycare back then, and I had a terrible image of him launching teeth-first at the first child who made a grab for his alphabet blocks.

The advice online varied wildly from "Give him a frozen bagel!" to "Bite him back to teach him a lesson!" and honestly, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Luckily, I didn't have to work on the biting behavior because he never did it again, and whether that was the result of my Vader Voice or not, I'll never know.

This whole topic came up lately when a friend of mine said her child had recently started biting, and asked if I had any ideas for putting a quick stop to it. I thought back to my experience and realized that like so many parenting issues, the fact that I lived through something certainly doesn't make me an expert—or even vaguely knowledgable.

In fact, the only suggestion that came to mind was to see if Babies "R" Us sold a wee Hannibal Lecter-esque muzzle:

I'm guessing that's not the right answer, though.

Have you dealt with a biting baby? How did you discourage it?

Image via Flickr/Yoshimov

Read More >