Got a whiny baby on your hands? Don’t worry, there are only a few reasons babies get fussy, irritable, whiny and out of sorts. Read on for solutions!
When a baby is sweet and precious and cooing and sleeping it’s like… the best thing ever.
They smell good.
Just looking at them releases happy hormones.
But when they are whiny and fussing and irritable and not sleeping… Life Is Hard.
Since they can’t really tell us what’s going on, it can be tricky. Luckily, if we have a few things working for us (routine, sleep habits, feeding habits, etc.) then it’s Much Easier to figure out why baby is whiny.
Let’s dive in.
8 Reasons You’ve Got A Whiny Baby And What To Do About It
Let’s dive into the main reasons babies are usually whiny (urgent medical issues aside which you should talk to your doctor about) and how to fix it!
This is also a great time to break out your daily baby log so you can note habits and patterns.
Learn how to space naps, how many a day per age, best times, etc. and get your nap game ON!
1. Baby is over tired and inconsolable
This is probably my numero uno.
People seriously underestimate how much babies can and will sleep. Here’s a basic breakdown of baby sleep times for you, but suffice it to say, babies will take a nap basically after every feeding. And they’ll do this for a few months!
The amount of sleep baby needs depends on their age, but if baby is over tired then they will seem irritable all day and not sleep well for naps.
- Newborn sleep schedule
- Sample newborn routine
- 3 month old baby sleep routine
- 6 month baby routine
- 6 to 9 month baby routine
- 9 to 12 month baby routine
Those will help give you an idea of something to shoot for. Each baby is different, follow their cues, but know that a lot of crying and whining means that whatever’s happening now has room for improvement.
Read: The Nap Trap – How To Deal With It & Not Resist It
2. Baby is whiny because he’s hangry, hungry, or “snacking” too much
This is a given.
In fact, with a whiny baby you’ve likely tried feeding a lot more and a lot more often, right?
Here are some basic rules of thumb related to baby feeding to take into account if you’ve got a whiny baby on your hands.
- Stop snacking | Babies need full feeds that get to the nutrient rich hind milk. 5 minute feeds here and 10 minute feeds there will make for a hungry baby. Imagine eating a few crackers every hour or two. You’d be irritable and not super hungry but not full or satisfied. Same with baby.
- Routines help “set” baby’s metabolism | If you’re on a good routine (see above) then you don’t have to guess why baby is whining. You’ll know. My 5 kids would all start making noises within minutes of normal feeding times. No mystery to decode. It was obvious!
- Give enough milk and/or solids | At about 5 months of age babies start getting ready for solids and they’re hungry. Your supply might be lagging and you’ll need to feed more, and baby will need solid soon. After 6 months, if you have a whiny baby and they aren’t eating solids, that’s why they’re whiny. They’re hungry.
Read: Feeding Baby Until One Year of Age and How To Get Your Newborn To Sleep Well From Day One
3. Baby is over stimulated (or it’s witching hours!) and super fussy
Have you ever been to Times Square? Everywhere you look there are people. Lots of lights, lots of sounds. Lots of movements. Cars, the signs, the people. It’s mesmerizing and amazing and then… you’re ready to go.
This is what it’s like for a newborn.
So many people staring into their face, making sounds, talking, picking baby up, rocking him, walking him, and on and on.
Babies often start to whine because they want some peace and quiet. It’s not isolating to have a safe quiet place for baby to go away from the hustle and bustle of family life. Especially if you have a large family.
Read: Why You’ve Got An Angry Baby – And What To Do
Sit with baby in a quiet room while the rest of the house goes on about their merry business.
- Witching hours are a real thing | Babies often get whiny during the witching hours. Early to late evening hours, usually. Milk supplies often run low due to the stresses of the day, general tiredness, and overall Evening Mania contribute to fussiness around this time.
- Cluster feeding really works | If baby is acting whiny in the witching hours, cluster feeding will often do the trick.
Read: End Baby’s Witching Hour — In 4 Simple Steps
4. Baby is trying to wind down and blow off some steam and has trouble settling
Often whining and crying happens when babies are ready to take a nap. They’ll start fussing then crying and then drift off into sleep.
Sometimes they’ll go from a high pitched cry to immediate sleep.
Not all babies, but some. It’s important to give babies a good wind down routine that allows them to slowly go from alert to drowsy then eventually to sleep. We often expect babies just to go to sleep in a room full of loud people.
And they will… until about 3 months of age.
Then they’ll start waking up more and without healthy wind down and sleep habits, they will start getting whiny and have trouble calming down.
Read: Wind-down Routines Guaranteed to Help Your Baby Sleep
Easy to implement routines, rhythms and schedules from birth through school-aged kids to help you streamline day-to-day life with kids, including a step-by-step guide for getting started.Learn More
Read: 7 Simple Reasons Why Your Baby Won’t Nap & What To Do
5. Baby is going through a growth spurt and more whiny than normal
When babies that are usually calm and peaceful become whiny and fussy… there’s usually something developmental going on.
A growth spurt is one of these things.
The way to get through this? Lots of feeding, sleeping, and time.
This too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.
Read: Wonder Weeks: A Stress Free Guide To Your Baby’s Behavior
6. Baby is teething and irritable
Teething changes babies’ personalities.
Read: 12 Medical Reasons Why Your Baby’s Not Sleeping (With Symptoms of Each)
This is a great indicator of whether something is going on with baby or not. If they’re normally happy then turn fussy, could be teething. If they have previously slept well now are fighting sleep or waking more frequently, could be teething.
Natural Teething Remedies:
- Give baby something to chew on | Get an organic teething ring or something similar, and let baby find some relief that way.
- Frozen food | Here’s a little feeder you can put frozen food in that baby can gnaw on.
- Freeze a wash cloth | Similar to above, but it’s free.
- Essential oils | You’ve obviously got to take precautions on which oils you use and how you dilute them, but contrary to the “fad-iness” they’ve experienced recently, they’re natural remedies that have been around for centuries.
- Toothbrushes | At times we’ve given the baby a toothbrush to chew on when they were really wanting something hard to gnaw on. This was a favorite.
Read: Surviving Teething Without Sleep Regressions
7. Baby is not well so she’s fussy
Goes without saying, but baby will be more whiny and fussy if they aren’t well.
The trouble is, if they don’t have a fever, we don’t always know, right?
Here are some things to consider:
- Reflux | Often babies struggle with reflux which can cause discomfort. Hyper-lactation can even mirror reflux symptoms and make it hard to tease out the two. This usually resolves itself by 6 months of age.
- Gas | If you put your baby down for a rest and 30 minutes later or so they wake up in a full fledged cry, this is often gas pain. Bring up their little legs and feet in a bicycle motion, or burp them, and if they find relief then you know the culprit.
- Ear aches | I got so fed up with wondering if baby’s ears were hurting (and with having 5 kids, this was a lot!) so I got a Dr. Mom Otoscope. I can nearly always tell if my child has an ear infection and how bad it is without having to go to the doctor.
Read: Baby Reflux: A Surprising Cause (And How To Help Baby Sleep)
8. Bears Repeating: baby is whiny because he’s ready for bed
Okay, okay, I’ve already mentioned that baby might be whiny from over tiredness.
Get my cheat sheets and find your family’s groove. Chore, independent play, meal, nap, bedtime, and MORE routine ideas!
But whining is often a cue that it’s bedtime.
This means it’s probably not time to start rocking, jiggling, and over-stimulating baby. But instead, to start a wind-down PRONTO and then get baby in bed.
Read: Foolproof Baby Sleep Tips — Routines, Habits & Strategies
Take our 3 day challenge to create life-giving family, child, and self-care routines.Learn More
Just a suggestion: It’s a bit alarming to see non-safe sleep photos on this blog. The photos of babies sleeping with pillows and blankets are deeply problematic given the people come here looking for solutions to get their little ones to sleep. I’d suggest following recommended guidelines in the photos you post.
You sound so deeply problematic for attacking someone over the random stock photos she uses. Relax Karen.
You mean a bit triggering for you it is not alarming. Also, several people the world over practice bedsharing with no dead babies it can be safely done.
We’re all here to get advice about baby sleep. Let’s be kind to each other mamas!