You’ve left a pretty stressful day at work only to get to daycare to pick up your child to find an incident report in their bag, they’ve been bitten at daycare. While I know your first reaction is to be upset, it’s common, it happens, and typically is resolved quickly.
While biting is a behavior that we’d typically not like to see, in our children or others’, it is a common occurrence and very typical in children under three. Picking your child up from daycare and learning they’ve been bitten can be startling and frustrating, but daycares always have policies in place to deal with this very typical behavior.
Read on to find out how common this is, what you can do, how to treat, and what you should know.
My child keeps getting bitten at daycare
Biting happening in daycare is very common. Yes, I know that doesn’t make you any less angry or frustrated. In your mind, the teacher was supposed to be watching your baby and nonetheless, he got bitten.
According to the American Psychological Association, nearly one-third to one-half of children under three in daycares are bitten at daycare at some point. I know that number seems high. Because when we think of a class of twenty children, anywhere from seven to ten of them are probably going to be bitten at some point during their time at daycare.
It may seem outrageous; however, this is developmentally appropriate behavior for children under three years old. I know you don’t want to hear that, and I know that doesn’t make you any less angry, but you can take some comfort in knowing that this behavior probably wasn’t directed at your child, but it happened due to another child their age unable to express their emotions reasonably.
After your child is bitten, the important thing is to make sure that the bite didn’t break the skin and to thoroughly clean and dry the site of the bite. In the unlikely event that the bite did break the skin, you should see your pediatrician.
How common is biting in daycare?
Biting is a common occurrence in daycares and almost expected in children under three. By expected, I don’t mean you should expect your child to be bitten, but you can expect a child under three may resort to biting. This is not information we should be startled by. So why do children bite?
A baby or toddler may bite another child in their class because they:
- are experimenting as they explore their world;
- may be under stress and they don’t know how to cope;
- may be frustrated, and they don’t know how to express that frustration; or
- could be trying to assert their power.
While most of these reasons are harmless, I’m sure you’re zeroed in on a baby trying to assert power over yours. While it is easy to jump to the worse conclusions when our babies are hurt, know that your child’s teacher is well trained to handle each of these types of bites and will do everything in their power to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
What if your child bitten at daycare has broken skin?
If your child is bitten in daycare, your child with have either a bite mark but the skin is intact (common) or a wound that breaks the flesh (uncommon in daycares).
Your child will have been cared for immediately following the incident by their teacher. However, you may want to treat the wound yourself when you get your child home as well.
If it’s a wound that did not break the skin:
- Clean well with soap and water
- Apply a cold compress.
Luckily, if there is no broken skin, there is no chance of it becoming infected.
If the bite breaks the skin, there is a chance for infection either from the bite itself due to the number of bacteria in a person’s mouth. If the bite has pierced your child’s skin:
- Call your pediatrician.
- If bleeding, do not squeeze, apply pressure with a sterile cloth.
- Wash the wound under water with soap and water for 5 minutes.
- Dry and cover with a sterile dressing.
What to do if your child is bitten at daycare
If your child is bitten at daycare there are some steps you can take to be proactive as a parent.
Know that accidents happen, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to speak to the teacher or the director to ensure all policies are being handled correctly and that steps are being taken to prevent the biting from happening again:
- Talk to your child’s teacher/director.
- Refer to your parents’ handbook to ensure policies are being followed.
- Be sure to get a written incident report so there is a paper trail.
While it is important to know what you can do and what your rights are, it is also important to know what you do not have rights to. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The daycare can’t tell you who did the biting.
- You cannot talk to the child or their parents.
While this may be very frustrating, just think how you might feel if your child’s teacher was talking to another parent about your baby! While you can talk to the teacher about what they are doing to prevent the behavior, know that it is the most respectful thing they can do to leave the child’s name out.
Daycare biting laws and policy
By law, your child’s daycare teachers should inform you of a biting incident if they administered first aid.
They are required by law to provide you with an incident report and it to be noted in your child’s file. Be sure that if you only get verbally told that your child got bitten, make sure to speak up and ask for a written incident report.
This allows there to be a paper trail so the proper steps can be taken if the biting happens a second, third, or fourth time.
How should daycare handle biting
Daycares should be following their licensure procedures when a biting incident happens.
Licensing policies are very clear, and protocols should be laid out in your parent handbook. If your child encounters an incident like this, be sure to refer to your handbook to make sure you know what your childcare providers have promised to do.
This will typically include:
- Administering first aid to the bitten.
- Writing up an incident report.
- Notifying parents if first aid was administered.
Can a child be removed from daycare for biting?
A child can certainly be removed from daycare for biting, but it may not be immediate or permanent.
Most daycares have a policy handbook that they adhere to. This means that certain behaviors are allowed and other behaviors that may cause a child to be removed from the facility altogether.
When one child bites another, they may receive one of the following disciplinary actions:
- The child could be suspended for a certain number of days,
- The child could be removed from the classroom and be put into a different classroom if it’s a common recurrence,
- If it’s always targeted at one child the children may be separated into different classrooms,
- If unresolved after many attempts, the child could be expelled from daycare.
Rest assured that daycare workers are trained and must continue their education hours every year to stay up to date on all policies and procedures. They also attend training that gives them strategies to help them deter children from resorting to this type of behavior. Furthermore, daycare workers are first aid certified and will take care of your baby when they are bitten.
When you find out this has happened to your baby, remember:
- Stay calm.
- Make sure there is an incident report (you’ll have a paper trail so if it happens again, you can take further action).
- Talk to your child’s teachers and the director of the building about how they are handling should it become a common occurrence.
You’ve got this and don’t worry; your baby will be okay!