Biting is a part of almost every little kid's life -- either he puts his fangs to someone else or someone sinks her teeth into him. How to handle both:
When your child's the biter
- Get eye to eye with the nipper. Then, using a stern voice, say, "No. We don't bite." Babies as young as 9 months can understand that, and given that they usually bite because they're teething, a gentle but firm no typically suffices. Older babies and toddlers tend to chomp out of frustration or anger and require further action. Keep reading!
- Immediately remove the biter for a mini -- time-out, which will help defuse the intense feelings. For most toddlers, even a 30-second break will feel like an eternity.
- Once he's calmer, have him tell the other child "Sorry." Not talking yet? A gentle pat will do. The goal is to introduce the idea of empathy, says David Schonfeld, M.D., director of developmental pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
- If the tot continues to bite a lot going forward, praise him whenever you see him not doing it during a similar situation. You can say something like: "Harry, I'm proud of you for asking Sally nicely to share the toy." Should the habit continue beyond age 2 or after several weeks of positive reinforcement for not biting, check in with your pediatrician.
- Wash the bite with soap and water right away, even if the skin's not broken. If there's even a little bleeding, apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a bandage. Actual deep puncture wound? Call the doctor; she may prescribe an antibiotic.
- Keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as redness or swelling at the bite site, or a fever.