One of my twin babies has started biting herself when I try to soothe her (when she starts crying). She will try to bite her lower arms or wrist and leave bite marks. After that she will start shrieking and crying because of the pain.

I have checked her mouth to see if she is teething, but she is NOT. Her gums are not hard and she has got 3 teeth which she had by 10 months. She also doesn't bite me or anyone else.

She just loves biting herself and then shrieks. Everytime, she tries to bite, I firmly hold her hand and say NO, then she starts crying. If she sees I am not watching her, she quickly tries to go for a bite (sadly it's her wrist she bites).

This has started from last three days only and I am worried that my other twin will also start copying and will bite herself.

1 Answer 1


First off, she probably is teething to some degree. Kids generally have at least mild teething from 9 months or so to 15 months, at a minimum. Not to say they're in pain, but chewing/gumming feels good to them, just like it does sometimes to adults who have mild tooth issues.

Unless she's breaking the skin, I would let her do this. If it's not breaking the skin it's harmless - pain isn't actually damaging at these levels/frequencies. This is part of experiential learning. She's probably doing it to see what it feels like, to see if it makes her mouth feel better (or just feel interestingly). Biting yourself you have a good idea of when to stop, since you have a feedback mechanism (the pain).

Both of my children do this from time to time, although they don't scream in pain (largely because they've learned when to stop). It's a stress release - as with adults, mild amounts of pain can be useful for calming nerves.

The only concern I'd have is if it starts to involve biting others. Many children go through a biting others phase; if that does begin then take a look at some of the other questions on this site on that topic. I would consider that totally separate from this, though.

  • Thanks Joe , I really hope this is just a phase. I hope my baby is not masochist :( She loves inflicting pain on herself and then shrieks. Poor bub !
    – Tiffany
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 18:35
  • It's not a matter of being a masochist. Small amounts of pain are a way of centering yourself; overriding other stimuli. Think of the classic example of a person hyperventilating and someone slapping them to make them stop. Biting herself (not too hard) gives her a way to focus on that stimulation rather than the stressful social situation or whatever that she's in.
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 18:52
  • Okay, I understood but having tough time to control her. Should i shout at her or bite her back if she bites herself ( to make her realise not to bite)
    – Tiffany
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 10:18

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