Baby Whining: Reasons & 13 Effective Tips to Deal with It

Baby Whining – Causes and Tips to Handle Your Child

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Dr. Rashmi Prakash (Psychologist/Psychotherapist)
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After the initial euphoria of bringing home a baby has worn off, you will find that raising a child is not easy. In fact, it is one of the hardest tasks in life. Especially when the little one is whining. Taking care of the child becomes the most important part of your life, and you will find yourself drained, both emotionally and physically, at the end of the day, while your whiny baby relentlessly asks for more.

Video: Baby Whining – Causes and Tips to Handle Your Child

The fact that babies cannot communicate makes it even more difficult, as the causes of their discomfort are hard to find out. You might start to understand the behavioural patterns of the child as he grows up. Most children cry when they are hungry or in discomfort but, sometimes, they refuse to stop crying no matter what you do- this usually happens around the 1-year mark. So, in this article, let us take a look at the common causes of whining in babies and how to deal with them when they are crying.

What Is Baby Whining?

What is Baby Whining?

Infant whining is the term used to refer to children crying incessantly, for no obvious reason. This can make it harder for parents to discern the reasons behind why they are crying, so it makes it even more difficult to stop them. Children usually whine because they are frustrated with themselves, and their inability to complete an action or a task. They might also start crying if the outcome of the task is not what they wanted, or are in pain. Other common causes of children crying out are hunger, discomfort or even tiredness.

The probable reasons why the child is crying are directly dependent on her age. Babies start crying at the age of 4 months, and the common reason is hunger, pain or discomfort. They will also cry if they want to sleep, but cannot. As they grow up to around a year of age, the crying happens because they are unable to assert themselves as individuals. Babies might want to be independent and carry out their tasks by themselves, but they are obviously unable to at that age- this leads to a lot of crying and whining, which can be hard to placate.

Therefore, baby whines because he wants to communicate to you what exactly he wants. The whining is a result of him trying to make you understand what he wants to be done, so the parents are supposed to try to understand that so as to help him calm down.

What Causes Whining in Babies?

If your 1-year-old is constantly crying and whining, there can be many reasons as to why he does it. Some of these can be simple and easy to carry out, while others may be manifestations of health issues and will require a visit to the doctor to sort out. The common reasons why children cry are:

1. Communication Gap

At such young ages, your child will not be able to communicate effectively with you. You might notice that the babbling skills of the baby develop greatly as he grows up, but there is also a limit to that kind of communication- he cannot be specific by babbling to you. When he wants to share complex emotions but is unable to, your baby may start to whine to try to make you understand.

2. Hunger

Another common reason why children cry, hunger is something that babies try to make you understand by whining. When the baby cries at a young age, try feeding him- he might just be hungry.

3. Tired

If you travel a lot with the baby, you might notice a pattern in the whining of your child. Children get tired quickly during long journeys, and they might start to cry in order to make you understand that they want to go to sleep. This crying will also be accompanied by irritability and a general disinterest in things.

4. Diaper Change

A soiled diaper can make your baby extremely uncomfortable and might be the reason why your child is crying. So if you notice him crying for a long time and the crying does not subside, you should promptly check his diaper and see if he needs a change.

5. Temperature Changes

If you notice that your child cries as he comes in contact with the hot water for his bath, he is probably trying to tell you that the water is too warm for him. The skin of children is extremely sensitive, so they feel temperature more intensely. This can also occur if you take him to a place where the temperature is cold, and have not covered him with enough layers of clothing.

6. Rashes and Discomfort

Sometimes, the child may cry to make you understand that he is feeling uneasy about something. This might be a painful rash, itching feeling or the onset of a fever. This holds true especially after your baby has started to crawl – the ability to move comes with a few bruises here and there, so he might be trying to tell you that his bruises hurt.

7. Air Bubbles

If you see your child crying immediately after a feeding session, try patting him gently on the back- sometimes, he might stop crying quickly. Air bubbles in the windpipe are a cause of discomfort for the child, and he might find it difficult to burp it out himself. So, make sure to pat his back so that the bubble is released through a burp.

8. Attention

More often than not, your baby might cry simply because he wants the attention of his parents. If you have been away from him for a long time, you might observe that he starts to cry out more frequently. This happens because he wants your attention, and simply wants the safety and security of a cuddle. This is a great way to bond with your child, too.

9. Language Development Issues

In some cases, the child may cry as a result of some greater problem he is unable to convey. If your baby is autistic, he will be unable to learn new words and verbal development remains hampered. Such children cry out because they are unable to appropriately convey their thoughts. Autistic babies will also be unable to digest proteins which are found in barley and wheat. So as these food items make their way into the stomach, they trigger an allergic reaction which has symptoms like chronic whining, aggression and stomach ache.

10. Reflux

The digestive system of the baby is still developing, so acid reflux is common at a young age. This is because the sphincter which is supposed to prevent backflow from the stomach is still only developing, so there is nothing to stop the digested contents from coming back up the mouth. When such refluxes occur, the result is pain and irritation, which manifests as whining in young children.

Tips to Deal With a Whiny Baby

Your baby might whine suddenly and with no apparent reason – baby whining in sleep is also quite common. However, you have to handle the whining well, for the benefit of your child. Here are a few tips to help you calm your child down:

1. Be Calm

Parenting is not easy, and it is only human to have a burst of anger come out every now and then. However, you have to remember that your child is not being malevolent when he cries – he simply has a problem that he cannot take care of on his own. So, it is important that you do not get angry at your child, and always be patient when he cries.

2. Breastfeed

At young ages, children cry when they are hungry – this is the most common reason. Even if this might not be the reason, you should try breastfeeding him to calm him down, as skin-to-skin contact is sure to help. With the baby getting close to you and feeling your heartbeat, he is sure to feel more secure and calm down quickly.

3. Teach Him Communication

You have to try to make your baby convey what he wants, even if he is too young to speak. For example, show him the bottle when he cries- he might reach out for it, and you will understand that he is simply hungry. Slowly, your baby will start to point out to the bottle whenever he gets hungry and will stop whining.

4. Elimination

Elimination works well to help you determine why your child is crying. There may be various stimuli which cause the onset of whining, so try and observe him to understand why he does it. You can effectively mitigate crying with this measure.

5. Rocking

A tried-and-tested formula, babies find comfort in simple, repetitive motions. Hold him close to your shoulder, and try to rock him to sleep to stop him from whining. Make sure to rock him gently, as rocking him too fast rocking can lead to other issues.

6. Music

When he starts to cry, you can try to distract him from his discomfort by playing some catchy, peppy music while you try to figure out what the reasons might be.

7. Swaddling

If you notice your baby whining in sleep, if the cause of his whining is temperature changes, swaddling the child can help mitigate the crying. By creating a safe, stable temperature, he can now easily go to sleep in the warmth.

8. Clothing

You have to change the clothes and the diaper of the child periodically, even though he might not have soiled the diaper. Whining is commonly the manifestation of discomfort with his attire.

9. Massage

Infants love skin-to-skin contact with their parents, so you can try massaging the baby to see if the crying subsides. Place him either on his tummy or his back and massage him gently in rhythmic circular motions.

10. Bathe Him

Hot water is sure to soothe the baby, just like it soothes adults. You can try and give your child a nice, warm bath, and check if his whining subsides after.

11. Patting

If you observe the baby crying right after he has been fed the cause is probably the air bubbles trapped in his windpipe. You can help him burp out these bubbles by laying him on your shoulder and patting his back gently.

12. Pacifiers

If your baby has the habit of feeding on a bottle, pacifiers can work wonders in helping them calm down when they are whining. Children love having something to suck on- therefore, you can give him a pacifier and see if he calms down then.

13. Outdoors

In many cases, your child might cry simply because he is bored. He might need a change of surroundings, after being cooped up in the house for so long. So you can try to calm him down by taking him out for a walk and showing him interesting things around him to get his attention. Make sure to change his clothes, and have enough layers on him, though.

When to Consult a Pediatrician?

Sometimes, the reasons why your baby is crying may not be something cute and manageable – it might be the indication of a more serious, severe problem. Therefore, if you see that your baby does not stop crying and you have already tried everything possible, you should pay the doctor a visit as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to see past his whining and lay a hand on what the cause is.

Also, do not panic and get frustrated over his medical condition. You have to keep a calm head and discuss how to proceed further with the doctor, for the benefit of your baby. There is nothing wrong with taking a second opinion, too.


1. At What Age Does a Baby Stop to Whine?

Babies typically start to whine around 6 months of age and may continue whining until they learn more effective ways to communicate their needs, which can vary from child to child.

2. Is Whining a Lot Normal for My Baby?

Some level of whining is normal for babies, especially when they can’t express themselves in other ways. However, excessive or persistent whining may warrant attention and investigation to address any underlying issues.

3. Is Whining a Learned and Developmental Behaviour?

Baby whining can be both a learned and developmental behavior. Babies often learn to whine when they see it gets them what they want. Additionally, as they develop, they may use whining as a way to communicate discomfort, hunger, or other needs before they acquire more advanced language skills.

Children may whine for a lot of reasons, and most of those can be managed at home by the parents themselves. However, if you observe your child crying for prolonged periods of time and all your efforts to calm him down are going in vain, then it would be best to consult a doctor.


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Also Read:

Baby Crying at Night
Baby Crying while Bathing
How to Manage Fake Crying in Infants?
Baby Crying during Breastfeeding

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