Why do children bite?

Biting is a very common behaviour in children under 4 years, or until they develop expressive speech, gain selfcontrol and develop problem-solving skills. It is a normal part of a child's development in the early years as they discover more information with their mouths than through any of the other senses. Some children do not bite but those that do, will bite for a variety of reasons including:


Children up to the age of 3 years tend to use their mouths for sensory exploration which helps them to learn about shape, density, texture and taste. This mouthing tends to lead to some 'accidental bites'.


Very young children with no, or very limited speech may bite as a way of communicating their frustration at their inability to complete a task, convey their meaning, being told 'no', wanting another child's toy or another child taking their toy.


A child may bite instinctively as a snap response to feeling anxious, scared or stressed. It is often the child's way of quickly communicating a need without having to string words together and may be followed by hiting, screaming, crying or other.


The process of teething can be painful for many children, often causing congestion and pressure around the jaw. Biting down on an object can alleviate this pressure and pain for a short period with most children choosing the nearest object to bite, even if that is another human!


Some children may bite when becoming over-exctied or playful. This is usually an impulsive reaction to a lack of self-control and not purposeful.

Attention seeking

Children who crave adult attention may bite as a way to gain this attention, regardless of whether this is of a positive or negative nature. If a child is determined to gain attention, they will do this anway they can.

Southend Health Visiting Team

Telephone: 01702 534911