Why Does My 1 Year Old Whine/cry So Much??

Updated on March 04, 2011
M.M. asks from Bellingham, WA
16 answers

Mommas, I'm going nuts. I feel like I do everything within my power to take care of my son, but it seems he just isn't very happy. He almost constantly whines, cries, and fusses. Granted, he is my first, but it seems like he cries much more often then other babies his age. He was a colicky baby and had reflux pretty badly, and recently we started to try and weaning him off his reflux meds a bit. Maybe that's it? All the doctors said that by age 1, most kids outgrow their reflux, hence the weaning off meds. But maybe he hasn't grown out of it?? I feel like I'm always walking on egg shells, wondering if he's going to throw a fit any second. I am a SAHM, and I give him tons of attention all day long. He has plenty of fun toys. I feed him frequently, although he doesn't always eat much. He sleeps 9-10 hrs at night and 1-2 hr naps 2x a day, although he wakes and cries randomly throughout the night and naps. (I rock him back to sleep normally.) Whats wrong with him!!?? I always chalk it up to teething, but do kids CONSTANTLY teethe at this age?? He has all 8 in the front. (although they aren't all the way through quite yet) Could they still be hurting him while they are coming in all the way? I don't feel any molars yet, but I guess that doesn't mean they aren't coming. I recently got his ears checked at his 1 year well baby, and they were fine. But he has been pulling on them a lot lately, sometimes while he's crying. He also cries and rubs his nose area frequently. Help me mammas, I don't know what to do. Give him tylenol or something if he's teething? Go back to the higher dose of reflux meds? Just get over it?? How do I know which one to do? Is it just a big guessing game??? Sorry for the book of a post, but I am really at my wits end. I just want a happy baby!! Thanks, guys.

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So What Happened?

Thanks SO MUCH for all the responses!!!
If anything, you all help remind me that "this too shall pass"!! I do think he is a really sensitive little guy, so any little thing bugs him. He's pretty much always been this way. I finally gave in and tried some tylenol, and he fell asleep right there in my arms 30mins later. (like I said before, normally I have to rock him to sleep) So I definitely think teething is somewhat to blame. I agree with many of you, that he is bored. We live just north of Seattle, WA, and the weather right now is really crappy, so we don't go outside as much as we used to. Hopefully we will have some sunny days soon! I think going outside daily would help a lot. I also think he has waaay too many toys, and he may be getting overwhelmed/overstimulated. We are def going to try to rotate toys now.
As far as sleep goes, when I say he wakes at night, I mean he lies there and cries until I pick him up. (we co-sleep, so I know when he is making sleep noises, or when he's really awake.) He's also very close to walking, and has been pulling up/trying to stand in his crib frequently. He may be getting frustrated that he can't walk yet. I KNOW he's frustrated that he can't talk yet. (all he has is momma and dadda so far..) He will be sitting on the floor playing happily, and the out of the blue he crawls over, tries to climb on me, and starts crying! It's so odd. It breaks my heart when he looks at me while he crying, like 'mom, why don't you get what I'm trying to say here!?'
He is also seeming to have some reflux symptoms returning, like some back arching, so I will talk to the ped about what to do. Maybe his boredom is causing things like teething and reflux to aggravate him more since he is not distracted, and has to focus more on the pain/discomfort. Maybe if I keep him busy he will notice those things less.
Thanks again, guys! You have given me lots of ideas to try, and reassurance that I am not alone! :D

Featured Answers


answers from Houston on

Some children are more sensitive than others to light, sound, schedules, food.... Gas, teething, reflux the inability to communicate, ear infection 9since he's pulling on his ears), all things add stress.

Dr. Sears has tons of great advice:

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4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My first thought: ear infection or at the very least some fluid in the ears making it uncomfortable?

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answers from New York on

Could be a lot of things. Could he be overstimulated? You say you feed him frequently and give him tons of attention and lots of toys. Maybe you play with him too much and he has never learned to entertain himself with toys and the world around him? Put away 85% of his toys and after a week pull out FOUR toys he hasnt seen in a week. and put away four toys for a while Keep rotating his toys so he has "new" toys every week.If you always rock him to sleep he has never learned to self soothe and that is a big problem, he is dependent on you. Some kids pull on their ears when they're tired. Is this a habit or a new behavior? Have you read my favorite book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block? If not run to your library.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

You said he "wakes and cries randomly throughout the night."

Well, kids/babies, make noises at night or in their sleep.
Even adults.
Just let him be. Try that.
Both my kids as babies made noises/little cries during the night. But basically, they were fine. But IF I interrupted them... then they WOKE woke.
If I l let them be, they just went back to sleep. It was just intermittent noises they made at night.
So I got to know, their 'noises' and IF I needed to comfort them or just let them be.
Not all noises, means you have to 'wake' them and pick them up. It could just be that they are simply making noises in their sleep... but are actually STILL asleep.

Unless he wakes wakes, and is screaming/crying for you... I would just try and let him be. See if he goes back to sleep. Many times, they are still just in a sleep state. Making noises.
Try that.

For during the day, if he is fussying like that... well is he tired? Both my kids as babies, did that when they were tired, and before they actually fell asleep. They made this fussying-droning type of "cry" before they actually fell asleep. It was a sort of momentary thing they did, before actually falling asleep. It was, in a way, them nodding off.

And yes, maybe he is teething.

Don't give him higher doses of reflux meds, unless the Doctor tells you to do so.

And make sure is is not just hungry and needing a feeding.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My son was very whiny at 12 mos too. I came to realize most of it was pre-verbal stuff, as if his whine meant "what is, what is, what is THIS, Mommy". Naming stuff constantly helped. Also, some of his whining revolved around problem solving, when he got frustrated that he couldn't work out a problem. Letting him work it out (with occasional suggestions) helped with that.

I think his sleeping sounds on track.

Do you see a decline in his reflux symptoms? I remember lots of back arching with reflux.

Maybe he has allergies? Not to make you worry about one more thing.--I really think a lot of kids rub at their face or tug ears when they are fussy, not because of pain necessarily, but more to express frustration.

Maybe try Tylenol just to see if your hunch about teething is right, but don't make Tylenol a regular thing for him (just my feeling, I like to sty away from too much meds).

Does he get exercise or a change of scenery? I think the winter can get boring for a kid.

I can understand how stressed you are. Follow your Mommy instincts. Sometimes it is a guessing game, but you can be methodical about it if you want to rule out some issues.

Oh yeah, try different kinds of music to set a mood too.

Sorry about the book of a response! : )

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

If you are constantly trying to help him not be fussy and whiny, when he is doing okay and you have a moment to yourself, that means that you aren't doting on him anymore. So he starts up the whining and crying again. Basically, he's learned what he needs to do to get what he wants - whine and cry.

It's a learned response. You won't have a happy baby until he figures out that the whining and crying won't work.

Try changing some things up - pay lots of attention to him when he's not acting this way. Less attention when he is. Tell him he needs to wait if he's fussing for something he doesn't need right away.

It will take time to change this. Don't hesitate to talk to your ped about it, just in case it is a physical issue as well.


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answers from Seattle on

It seems like you have lots of good ideas/solutions. I wanted to ask if you've tried ibuprofen instead of tylenol? We found ibubrofen worked much better for teething than tylenol. Some babies really have a hard time teething. Our 2nd daughter is a terrible teether and I swear she teethed from 12months - 18 months, straight - getting most of her teeth during that time. My first daughter wasn't nearly as bad with teeth.

Also, babies also can have fussy times when they are hitting major milestones - crawling, walking, etc.

Does he have a lovey/security item or blanket? With my younger daughter we carried a small security blanket with us and it helped when she was upset/fussy.


answers from Eugene on

In Bellingham you can find a good homeopathic practitioner. There are plenty of really good ones in Seattle. Your son needs a constitutional remedy.



answers from Seattle on

I'm having the same problem so your not alone. I have found though that he is really just teething, and going through a growth spurt so he is hurting and just out of sorts cause he doesnt know what to do. Poor guy.

I give mine tylenol, and Hylands Teething Gel and it really does help and makes him a much happier boy. If you think he is teething or if he is really cranky there is nothing wrong with giving him some tylenol.

Also, I give him different things to play with. Maybe he's bored of his toys?
I switch out his toys every now and again, and he forgets about the ones I put away so when I give them back its like hes getting new toys and gets so excited. My son just loves kitchen utensils, like spatulas and spoons haha.

Also when I am trying to clean up or something, I put him in his high chair and give him a bunch of puffs, the Gerber kind, they have a million different flavors, also yogurt puffs are a hit with mine too and he is quiet and happy, because he can do it himself and I can get things done.

You say he wakes up frequently so I am thinking he is over tired, and not getting enough real sleep. When he wakes up at night, quietly go in, and give him a pacifier and let him self soothe a bit and see if it works. I bought the book "The no cry sleep soloution" and it really helped me out a ton.
My son wasnt sleeping well either until I got that book and now he sleeps almost all the way through the night.

He needs a schedule, children cant function properly unless they have a schedule. They crave structure so give it to him.
When he wakes up feed him, then play then when he starts rubbing his eyes then its time for a nap, then when he wakes try giving him a snack, like fruit or more puffs etc. Then play, then maybe afternoon nap, then after that, its solid food, then bath then rock and read, then bed for the night.

Try a routine for a few days and adjust where you feel its needed.

Everything will be okay try not to stress, when you stress he can feel it and he gets stressed too. Just take it one minute at a time and do your best. Your doing great just hang in there :) Just try different things until something works for both of you :)

Best wishes!


answers from Williamsport on

Only your momma's instinct knows which times are "pain" related, and which times are crying to engage you. Guarantee, he's doing both if not whining and crying for control a bit more of the time at this age. Definitely stop appeasing him so much and let him self sooth when you know he's fed and rested and had his tylenol and nothing seems to be "wrong". Even if he is slightly uncomfortable, he can still train you to jump through hoops for him if you're not careful, rather than learning to cope on his own.
It's also not too soon for discipline if you spot any true tantrums in response to your saying "no" or not doing his bidding at certain times. My 3rd daughter started that at 7 months, much younger than my other 2.

Remember to go to him and give him hugs and attention when he's self engaged. Switch it up. First babies with attentive loving SAHMs have a way of ruling the roost (I know, I had one)!

My second two got over the whining and crying much faster than my first just because I really didn't have time to pay constant attention, so they got over stuff on their own better. You may want to drop the rocking to sleep and let him get secure falling to sleep on his own even with a bit of crying, this will help him cope at other times too once he realizes he survives every time, and mom's always there when he wakes up.

Also, be sure to feed him more (I know you do already, but force a bit more) during the day, so he sleeps through the night without waking and crying. A stuffed baby almost never wakes at night, even with ear aches, etc. It takes a few days for the body to calculate the increase, but in a few nights, you'll see him sleeping better. Good luck, this phase is hard!



answers from Cincinnati on

my son did this when he hit one as well, it peeked at 15mnths now at 18mnths things are better. yes teething could be one of the culprits, but think about this...imagine going through your day not quite sure what to expect when you are getting fed next and knowing what you want/need but not being able to get or or really explain what it is to anyone else. that is what your son is going through. at one he is old enough to know what he wants but gets frustrated when you cant figure it out. we found that once my son got better at communicating (not just words but motions, like pulling on the fridge door when he is thristy or trying to climb in his high chair when he is hungry.) he stopped having as many tantrums



answers from Seattle on

I would check with the dr about the reflux meds. Maybe you are weaning him off to soon. Or something else is going on. It's possible he has an ear infection now, but not at well baby.
Constant teething isn't normal, although sometimes it seems constant when it is one week on and one week off.
It sounds like he is getting enough sleep. It may not be quality sleep if he constantly wakes up, but that is hard to "cure" them of.
Sorry this isn't more helpful. It could be medical or diet, but more than likely it is just a phase.

After reading your what happened, I want to suggest baby signs. It has helped with my late talkers feeling they can get their needs across. Find simple signs for what they use most- drink, eat, sister/brother, animal sign for favorite animal, car, train (ok car and train are frequent sign at our house). If you can't find a book at your library, ASL has a website/dictionary that shows signs.



answers from Portland on

Try a pediatric chiropractor, massage therapist, or rolfer, or acupuncturist (they just do acupressure, not needles). He may have a kink in his neck or spine. I've taken my daugher to a couple of sessions, helps immediately.



answers from Chattanooga on

My daughter, who is now 3 was a very clingy/needy baby, but now that she is older and more independent it has gotten better.I remember when she was a year old she was very fussy and whiny all the time for no apparent reason. She also had reflux when she was a baby too, I might add. Teething was pure hell in our house, and it sounds like you're little guy may be having a hard time with it as well. Somethings that worked for us was frozen waffles to chew on, frozen wash rags and when it got really bad our Pediatrician told us we could give her Ibuprofen, which helped ALOT. I think my Daughter also got/gets bored alot! Make sure you have all kinds of different books and puzzles and age appropriate toys that he can play with that may keep him occupied..Perhaps a TV show or two wouldn't hurt either. :)It will get better, and a little easier once he gets a little older. As I mentioned earlier, My daughter was the same way when she was a baby and as she has gotten older, more independent and not needing me so much, she is much happier :)



answers from Spokane on

First, make sure it's not the reflux by checking with the doctor.

Second, set and KEEP a strict daily routine : wake up, get dressed, breakfast, outside time, nap, lunch, play, reading (as downtime), nap, play, dinner, bath, jammies, reading, bed.

Third, give him a little independance. Start teaching him to get himself dressed, brush his teeth and hair - though you'll obviously still have to help LOTS for a while. Get him to 'help' you with chores: folding laundry, dusting (my daughter would 'dust' for hours with a damp washcloth at that age if I let her) and other safe chores.

Fourth, make sure he's eating nurtiously and getting plenty of fresh air and excersise. This will help him sleep better.

Last, you can start curbing the whining by telling him to use a nice voice. I tell my girls that I can't understand them unless they use a nice voice. It may take a while for him to 'get it', but he will catch on.

Good luck. It's tough when they're so little and *want* to communicate but aren't able to yet. Hang in there...it gets better :o)


answers from Chicago on

I am going to suggest that you contact your local early intervention to see if that may be an issue. I say this because mine has a history of simmilar behaivor and it turned out he had some senory issues and other things they were able to help with. This may not be the case you could just have a fussy one or this could be the case and they are best trained to help you determine that. Pedis are not as good in pinpointing this so do not expect your pedi to "know the answer"


here is the site for your local are and see what they have to say!

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