How to Discipline a 1-Year-Old Who Bites

Much to your mortification, your sweet 1-year-old cannot seem to stop biting his siblings, the other children at daycare or his parents. According to the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning at Vanderbilt University, young children and toddlers bite for a variety of reasons; they may be reacting to an unwanted stimulus, responding to curiosity, or simply enjoying the sensation of chewing and biting. If you're concerned about your biting 1-year-old, there are several ways to let him know that this type of exploration, play or mimicry isn't okay.

  1. Remain vigilant when your 1-year-old is playing with other children. The minute you see him open his mouth and go in for the bite, quickly stop the chomp and tell him “no” in a firm voice.

  1. Give your 1-year-old a change of scene if he continues to bite. An older 1-year-old will often make the connection between action and consequence -- that is, between the action of biting and the consequence of removal from the fun of playing with his friends.

  1. Provide your 1-year-old with an alternative to his brother's arm or playmate's cheek. A soft toy, teething ring or cracker allows your little one to explore the sensation of biting without fear of injury to another child.

  1. Resist the temptation to bite your child back. Many parents, out of frustration, bite their 1-year-old back to show him that it hurts. A child this young cannot make this connection and will instead feel confused and embarrassed. According to Vanderbilt University, biting your child back only teaches him that biting is an acceptable way to vent frustration or solve a problem.

  1. Avoid punishing your 1-year-old too harshly after he bites another child. Yelling, spanking or any other type of extreme punishment will only heighten the baby's anxiety and fear, which could make his penchant for biting others even worse.

  2. Tips

    Ask yourself if your child's biting is a form of communication. Many times, biting is a response to anxiety over an uncomfortable situation; with no way to verbalize his feelings, your child chews someone out quite literally. Removing the source of frustration should also stop the biting.