You’ve just discovered that your child’s daycare is in fact not a fun place to learn and play with friends, but instead filled with a collection of ravenous little creatures out for blood. And one of them decided that your precious baby looked delicious and went ahead and took a bite—it’s time to set out with the harpoons, right?
In a word: no.
In two words: absolutely not.
Your first order of business is to calm down. There’s something primal about biting that makes it more unnerving than a slap or a shove, but it’s completely normal and even “age appropriate” for younger children under the age of four, generally. When developing children are frustrated, angry, tired, want their favorite toy or any of a million other things, they often don’t have the skills to communicate their unhappiness in a more socially acceptable way. Like it or not, biting is pretty effective for them to… uh… express their opinion. Here’s how it might go. You have my toy. I want it. I try to take it and scream, but you don’t let go. I bite your finger. You let go. I have the toy. See? Worse still, is that biting is such an easy skill to learn, sometimes it “breaks out” in a classroom, kinda like the plague.
Of course, the parents of the child who mauled yours with his Dracula like teeth aren’t terrible people, raising little psychopaths who will maim your child and lead them into a life of crime. It also doesn’t mean that you–or his teacher– failed. It means that he’s acting in an age-appropriate manner, socially, with his peers, he’s discovered a way of communicating and it means that you and his caregivers have some work to do to help him discover that It’s not the way of communicating that should be his “go to” style.
About half of all kids in daycare settings will be bitten at some point, and only about 2% of those bites even break skin. A tiny proportion of those go on to become infected, so the actual health risk to your child is infinitesimal. If you’re worried, though, you can keep an eye out for signs of infection such as swelling, redness, and heat, and you can reassure yourself by making sure all your child’s vaccinations are up to date; those should keep you busy until you’ve calmed down.
You can also take this chance to talk with your little one about what to do when they get upset and want to bite someone. Give them a big hug to let them know you care about them, and talk about it over some ice cream.
When it comes to your child, ice cream is always better than harpoons.