Despite being comprised of the Terrible Twos and/or Threes, I am quite fond of the toddler age. It’s really amazing to see how kids learn at that age and how they learn to piece things together. The saying goes that kids are sponges and it’s spot on. They learn a lot those first five years; but, I think that their brains are especially spongy at that age. That said, I think all parents or caregivers can agree on one thing. It is also the biting age, which is a huge challenge, and one of the reasons that books about biting for toddlers is so important.
This isn’t to say kids or people don’t bite after they grow out of this age bracket, but this is where it really begins. And for whatever unfathomable reasons, toddler teeth are as sharp as a velociraptor and that ish hurts. A lot.
Still, I get why they do it. It’s basically the toddler equivalent of screaming into a pillow or punching a wall. It’s a way to get frustration or anger out. The drawback is that those two other acts only hurt the angry person doing them; biting doesn’t hurt the biter but the bitten. So, when the behavior is discovered, there is understandably a quick attempt to stop it.
When I was a toddler teacher, I figured out quickly that the issue was that they just needed to go through the act of biting. This helped them to get whatever big emotion they were feeling out. After they did that they were fine. So, my go-to method was to have the parents of my biters bring in an old but still good teething ring for that. When I sensed a disturbance in the toddler force, I would ask whichever kiddo it was to go stand by their cubby to wait for their item to bite. And, for the remainder of the time I was in there, it worked out fine.
Still, the end goal is just to stop it altogether or, if you’ll pardon the slight pun, nip the behavior in the bud. If your kiddo is a reader, or rather listener, then books may be one of your go-tos for stopping the behavior. And with that in mind, here are some books that are simultaneously fun and engaging while also being sure to emphasize why we don’t use our teeth in conflicts.
I do want to give a real quick note first. Despite biting being a common issue among this age group, there is a noticeable lack of diverse books about the topic. This means that by extension, there is a noticeable lack of diversity in the authors writing about it, and this list is disproportionately by white authors. If you know of any more diverse books about biting for toddlers, please tell us on social media!
Teeth are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen
This book goes over what teeth are used for before mentioning what they aren’t used for, which has the added benefit of not starting with the admonishment. It also lists all the reasons why a toddler might bite as well as give them other options to take when they’re feeling the urge to. This one is a good introduction into bringing up the concept with your kiddo, and has the added bonus of being a board book. This means it is almost indestructible (but sometimes toddlers do prevail).
Little Dinos Don’t Bite by Michael Dahl and Adam Michael Record
Little Dino has discovered his teeth and is using them on everything, including his dinosaur friends. He has to be taught the proper way to use his teeth. While the title may give you pause and make you think, “Don’t they, though?” dinosaurs and children go hand in hand. So, they’re always a good option when bringing up what is or isn’t appropriate behavior.
People Don’t Bite People by Lisa Wheeler and Molly Idle
This laugh-out-loud book emphasizes that biting is for all types of foods, like carrots or cakes, but not for your sister no matter how mean she’s being. It is also a very colorful book, so that will also engage little readers and draw them in. Plus, it rhymes; I’m a huge fan of rhyming picture books because I feel that is one thing that will really grab a child’s attention.
No Biting Louise by Margie Palatini and Matthew Reinhart
Louise is trying very hard to not break her promise to her mom to not bite anymore. But it proves to be very difficult for the preschooler as she is still tempted to use her teeth. This is another book that has a story background, so if your little reader prefers that format it will be right up their alley.
No More Biting for Billy Goat by Bernette Ford and Sam Williams
It’s Billy Goat’s first day at school, and he is feeling a bit overwhelmed. He wants to join his classmate’s games, but isn’t sure how. Then he gets overwhelmed and frustrated and bites, which doesn’t entice the other children to invite him to play. Luckily, Ducky is willing to give him a bit of advice and guidance so that everyone gets a chance to play together. This is another story that may be a good fit for your young readers, since it highlights one of the main reasons they may be inclined to bite.
Hopefully these books about biting for toddlers will help to give a bit of guidance to both you and the tiny biter in your life when it comes to curbing behavior. Most times, they do grow out of it. But, since you likely want to just get the behavior to stop, these books are a good jumping off point to try to start that preferred behavior. Find even more books for toddlers here!