Most infants and young children bite once in a while. Usually a bite is harmless and may not even leave a mark. Most children stop biting on their own.
Biting in young children usually does not lead to behaviour problems at a later age. But biting after age 3 may be a sign that a child has problems with self-control or expressing feelings.
Biting occurs in a variety of situations, most often when many children are together, such as at a daycare centre.
Children bite for different reasons, depending on their age.
Between 15 and 36 months of age, children may bite other people when they are frustrated or want power or control over another person. Young children may bite out of frustration because they cannot yet put their emotions into words.
After age 3, children usually bite when they feel powerless or scared, such as when they are losing a fight or think they are going to be hurt by another person. Children older than 3 who often bite other people need to be seen by a doctor. Biting that happens past age 3 or occurs frequently at any age may need treatment.
When one child bites another, first take care of the child who was bitten.
Most biting can be prevented with proper supervision that includes helping children express their feelings appropriately.
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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