Why Does My Toddler Moan So Much? 4 Tips You MUST Know!

By  Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH | Updated - 10 June 2021

Do you find yourself asking yourself "Why does my toddler moan so much?" midway through trying to get anything done? Is it a constant battle when trying to get your toddler to wear shoes or having them leave you in peace whilst you cook dinner?

Does your toddler simply whine at you with everything?

Well, firstly know this... A moaning toddler will NOT go away on their own. If it's working for them and they're getting what they want, WHY WOULD THEY STOP?

Why does my toddler moan so much

So, here's the deal... You need to be prepared to adjust your behaviours to help your toddler break this habit or you're going to have a toddler who moans a lot for a long time! (WHICH IS NOT WHAT WE WANT!)

And how do we go about this then? Well in this article I've identified the 4 KEY tricks to help break your toddler's habit of moaning and help you get back on track with raising a happy little explorer once again!

Why does my toddler moan so much?

Whining is usually at its peak before your toddler has the language skills to express their needs. However, if your toddler is moaning a large proportion of the time, you need to start looking for a cause.

Your toddler may be moaning or whining for a number of reasons, the most common of which are:

  • Frustration
  • Tiredness
  • Hunger
  • Feeling insecure
  • Boredom
  • Needing reassurance
  • It’s getting them what they want

Dealing with frustration

For some toddlers there are so many new skills being learnt that sometimes it all gets too much. While challenging your toddler’s new abilities to help improve their skills is vital, the timing of these can be important to avoid frustration and consequently whining and moaning.

If you notice that your little one is becoming frustrated with a particular toy or skill that they are trying to perfect, it may be time to remove that particular toy for a while and replace it with one less challenging. 

It is best to save the more challenging experiences for when your toddler is fresh from a nap, well fed and when you have time to support them.

Successful play experiences are what we are aiming for and these are more likely to happen if your toddler is well rested and has a full tummy.

Another thing to consider if your child is moaning or whining a lot, is are they getting enough sleep and eating well?

I know from experience that a tired toddler is more likely to be a whiny toddler!

The importance of sleep and good food

Take a look at your toddler sleep schedule and see if you can adjust it to ensure they are getting age appropriate sleep. At no other time in their lives will your little one learn so much both physically and mentally and this can easily lead them to being overtired.

If you are having issues with bedtimes then take a look at my post on Hacking the Bedtime Routine for ideas on how to get bedtime back on track. This may reduce the moaning and whining significantly.

Or if your think your child is going through a sleep regression, check out this article -> Sleep Regression: Why It Happens!

Also ensure that your toddler has regular meal and snack times. Toddlers use up a lot of physical energy which needs to be fed with a healthy and well balanced diet. If your toddler is hungry they will struggle to concentrate and will quickly become whiny. 

Therefore, if your toddler is moaning check that either hunger or tiredness is not the cause.

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4 Tricks To Stop Your Toddler From Moaning So Much!

Toddlers are at a very exciting but exhausting time in their development. However, all this developmental activity needs careful handling. 

So on top of avoiding frustrating situations and having an established routine where they are having regular healthy meals and enough age appropriate nighttime sleep and daytime naps, there are 4 KEY tricks you can use to help break your toddler's moaning habit!

So, here are my top tricks to help STOP your toddler from moaning so much!

1. Give them the words

Toddlers need to learn how to substitute whining or moaning for words and for many toddlers this is a hard skill. Therefore, giving your toddler keywords to substitute for moaning certainly helps.

If your child is moaning then get down to their level and acknowledge that they are wanting to tell you something. Acknowledge that they may be tired, hungry or want your attention and then offer them the words they need to use instead.

If they want you to pick them up then teach them to say ‘up, please’. If they are thirsty, teach them to say ‘cup’. If they want you to read to them, teach them to say ‘book’.

Encourage them to say these words before you pick them up or give them what they want. And always make sure you are talking to them at their level.

It is important that once they start to use words rather than moaning that you praise them and respond promptly.

Keep your response to moaning simple and consistent and gradually your toddler will learn that words get far better results than moaning.

REMEMBER

Teaching them to wait can come later...

Right now you are trying to break the moaning habit!

2. Reduce Feelings Of Being scared and insecure

Whining and moaning can often go hand in hand with clinginess. If this seems to be the case with your toddler, consider what has been going on in their lives recently.

Has something significant happened such as the arrival of a new sibling (check out the video below to help with this!), moving house, starting daycare or have you returned to work? All of these things can trigger your toddler into feeling scared or insecure and this can lead to excessive moaning.

If you feel this may be the cause then you need to ensure that your toddler feels safe again by offering plenty of one-on-one attention and keeping to a regular schedule.

Toddlers love routines and knowing what is going to happen next so make sure your toddler has a regular daily and bedtime routine that includes predictable one-on-one time with you where they can do the things they like best.

A toddler that feels safe and secure is less likely to moan and whine!

3. Give Your Toddler Enough Attention to Avoid Boredom

Looking after a toddler can be exhausting and they can be very demanding of your attention. 

However, you need to appreciate that you are the centre of their world for now and that this is just a phase. 

Before you know it... their friends will become their central focus and you may even miss their constant need for you.

But right now their constant demand for attention can be trying, so ensure that you are spending enough concentrated one-on-one time with your little one, as this may alleviate some of the moaning for attention later on.

Top Tip

Fulfilling your toddler's need for attention is not just being in the same room as you.

There are many ways you can make your toddler feel secure and heard to avoid constant moaning.

While ensuring that you are sitting down together and reading a book, playing with a toy or doing an activity at a certain time of the day are great ways to engage with your toddler, there are other things you can do to help them feel part of what you are doing throughout the day.

Now I know I've spoken about not entertaining your toddler 24/7, but this is slightly different... So, are you chatting a lot about what you are doing and including them in it? 

If they feel you are engaged with what they are doing then they are less likely to be demanding and will therefore, moan less!

Encourage your toddler to play nearby when you are busy, and check in regularly by asking them what they are doing and encourage them by telling them they are doing a good job. 

This constant regular checking in verbally will make them feel attended to without you having to pick them up or sit right there with them.

It also begins to teach them the art of independent play.

Remember, toddlers don’t like to be left out... So, if you need to clean the house, fold the laundry or do some cooking, get them involved in the process!

They may not actually achieve much, but if they feel that they are part of what you are doing and have your attention they will be less likely to moan and you will definitely get more done.

So, give your toddler a duster, some socks to match up or some play dough to play with and get on with your chores with them at your side. 

If you do this as well as spending specific times of your day playing and reading with them your toddler will feel part of your life, rather than being allocated time slots when you have time for them.

4. Change locations and get plenty of fresh air

Get out and about! A change in location can help a moaning toddler. Just getting outside and encouraging them to run around can help, as well as having something else to focus on. 

Daily fresh air is good for the human soul and this is especially true for children. It can often regenerate and break your toddler's cycle of moaning if you get outside for some part of every day.

Check out this article to discover my favourite outdoor toddler activities -> 41 Outdoor Activities For Toddlers!

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FAQs About Why Does My Toddler Moan So Much?

Why is my 1 year old whining and crying all the time

While the reasons for your baby whining or crying all the time will be similar to those already mentioned above, a 1 year old may be moaning because they:

  • Have a dirty or wet diaper,
  • Are being overstimulated,
  • Are overtired,
  • Are teething,
  • Have wind,
  • Are experiencing colic or reflux,
  • Are feeling unwell.

As your 1 year old does not yet have the means to communicate with words you will have to learn to distinguish between true distress and general whining.

Checking all the obvious causes of your baby’s whining is the easy part, deciphering their frustration less so.

Most babies will whine and cry at some point but limiting their frustration will help a lot. A good way to limit your baby’s frustration at not being understood is to encourage language development from an early age. 

As soon as your baby starts babbling, have conversations and engage with them verbally. Even though they can not talk back with properly formed words they will be learning the art of conversation and seeing how important words are in communicating.

Toddlers of this age are easily overwhelmed with all the new developmental skills they are gaining so often they just need a cuddle and a bit of quiet time to calm them down.

Why Is My 2 year old whining and crying all the time

By the time your toddler is 2 years old most will be able to use words instead of whining or crying to tell you what they want. 

They are, however, still easily frustrated when they are attempting new skills and are very self centred.

Teaching your toddler patience, how to share and use words instead of moaning is a key part of their development. So, if your 2 year old is whining and crying all the time follow the guidelines outlined above to stop this bad habit before it becomes a big issue!

Why Is My 3 year old whining and crying all the time

If your 3 year old is whining and crying all the time it is probably because up until now it has worked. Why would they stop moaning if it has always gotten them what they want?!

There is no excuse for a typical 3 year old not to be able to verbalise what they need and I would not tolerate whining at this age.

So, if you are satisfied that they are getting enough sleep, are eating well and are getting enough age-appropriate play and developmental opportunities with lots of love and encouragement... then be consistent, give them the words and ensure that they use them before you do what they are wanting.

Don't Give In

Once you have decided on a policy for dealing with your toddler's moaning and whining it is important to STICK WITH IT.

So, if you are teaching them to use words rather than moaning then ensure that you emphasise this!

And if you do start giving into your toddlers demands without reinforcing the use of words, then your toddler will always go for the easy option and continue to moan.

Remember that if whining and moaning gets a result, I can guarantee that your toddler will use it whenever they can.

REMEMBER

Sometimes your toddler may just want a cuddle to reset their day.

So, before you put their moaning down to being demanding, think about how their day has been going and see if they need a bit of comfort.

So, there are my KEY tricks and tips to managing a toddler who moans a lot!

If you enjoyed this post about "Why does my toddler moan so much?" then be sure to give it a share around! 

And if you have any further questions about handling a toddler who moans a lot, then feel free to drop me an email at [email protected]!

So until next time, with love and support, happy parenting!

Teething to Tantrums Author

Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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