The Worst Sound a Baby Can Make, and How to Deal


When he was a baby, my son Riley was the most impatient creature on the face of this earth. Oh, your child is impatient? No. Your child is a burbling spa-like environment of Buddhist chants, aromatherapy, and Xanax-flavored ice cream cones compared to how my child behaved. I'm sorry, I win this horrible game.

I remember fervently praying that it was a stage rather than some sort of indication of his long-term temperament, because otherwise he would surely be in for an incredibly frustrating existence as he learned that not only do parents take more than .0001 seconds to pour the milk, but traffic lights sometimes stay red for entire MINUTES ON END! Water does not boil INSTANTLY! The DMV will suck YEARS FROM YOUR LIFE!

He would yell at the top of his pint-sized lungs over the smallest delay, and he reacted to any impediment—a toy pushed partially under the TV stand, for instance—with what I came to think of as the Most Annoying Sound in the World, an irritated "Eh, eh, eh, eh, EHHHHH" noise that was like listening to someone dragging their nails down a blackboard while Rebecca Black sang "Friday" and a nearby cat repeatedly threw up a hairball…only worse.

What is it about whining that is so obnoxious to listen to? It's like a physical thing, the whining, that trepans into your skull, penetrates your brain tissue, and makes you daydream about doing things like throwing a banana pie directly into your sweet innocent child's face—just to see his expression change.

We tried to encourage him to solve his own easily-solvable problems ("Hey, how about reaching under the TV stand, sweetie? You know, since the powers of telekinesis you so clearly long for have not come to fruition yet.") but the whining went on for months. And months. "My GOD," I once howled to the ceiling one morning when Riley was issuing forth a particularly obnoxious foghorn-level complaint about the amount of time the toaster was taking. "SERIOUSLY. I will BUY YOU A PONY. I will pay you a MILLION DOLLARS if you just be QUIET for ONE SINGLE SOLITARY MINUTE."

(By the way, it never works to tell a small child to be quiet. Never. Ever. In fact 9 out of 10 times you'll get the exact opposite effect of what you were aiming for.)

So like with most parenting challenges, we turned to humor to get us through. We taught Riley to say, "Chill out."

"Duuuuude. You need to CHILL. OUT," one of us would say, whenever Riley started doing his dying-goat impression because his puzzle piece had turned slightly and wouldn't fit in its hole, or whatever.

"CHIW. OUT," he'd repeat, delighted. And I swear, half the time he would forget what he was so pissed about. "CHIW OUT. RIWWY CHIW. OUT."

It didn't actually help with his impatience, but hearing a baby say "CHIW OUT" was both funny and cute, and briefly reminded us of why we liked him in the first place. This method worked until the Terrible Twos, at which point we just started using earplugs.

How do you deal with epic levels of whining? Do you have any tricks for saving your sanity?

Image via Linda Sharps

colic & crying, play


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Kritika Kritika


nonmember avatar Melanie

When whining becomes over-the-top (which feels like about every 5 seconds in our house) we make the boys sit in the affectionately named "Time out" chair while holding a large trophy (my husband won at a Chili Cook-off back in the day when we had TIME to do that sort of thing) while I announce Chuck Woolery style the "winner" of the "whiner of the day" award, and his "prize"... 5 minutes holding a heavy-ass award while mommy takes his picture. (pure torture) works like a charm, every time!! Lol!

Rachel Johnson

haha Melanie, that's classic.   Thankfully my 3 year old is starting to listen if we tell him to stop whining, but my 2 year old is ridiculous most of the time, especially in the car when all of a sudden he realizes that he wants every toy and that he wants them now. while driving one time he was crying about wanting some car on the floor and I asked if he wanted to "Crash and blow up" and he of course said yes then continued whining-----but honestly the stage of "I wanna help/do it" is even worse than all of the whining. God forbid I pour my coffee without him!

Susan Watserface

Oh, please, tell me some magical SOMETHING that works! The whining, it is killing me. So far the only thing that works, only occasionally, is barking "hey! Don't talk that way!" And then not responding to them until they don't whine. 

wendi... wendi.wendy

I had a great coping mechanism that probably most moms don't -- with a severe hearing loss in one ear and deaf in the other, I was able to turn off my hearing aid to take the edge off whining, screaming, tantrums, etc.  I could hear just enough to make sure they were okay, but gosh, it really saved my sanity.  It was like built-in earplugs!!  

I found I was able to deal much more calmly with my kids when I could barely hear them, LOL.

Eques... EquestrianMom

I used to make my son go and sit in our extra bedroom (this only worked for the toddler stage of whining,, I used earplugs when he was younger) and he had a special "teddy" who was the whiny bear. He could stay in there, on the bed, for as long or as short as he wanted, and whine, scream, cry, yell to his hearts content to his bear. When he was dont, he could come out. If he continued whiny behaviour when he came out, he went right back in, this time with a timer. I cannot stand, I mean cannot STAND whining. Makes me wanna slap something or pull my hair out!

 He's five now, still impatient and demanding from time to time, but he controls himself a lot better, and his ability to politely verbalize his problem is amazing. Almost as irritating as whining :P

Liviann Liviann

I wish I knew. I completely lost my shit the other day after an entire weekend of non-stop whining. I made my husband take her away, I don't care where, just take her a way for the love all that is holy! Sadly, I think part of her whining was due to having a cold and not feeling well. *sigh* I clearly win at mothering. 

nonmember avatar Haley

Oh, if only children came with an off button! I love the pie throwing comment! The other day my husband was trying to feed our dd dinner, she wanted the hot dog, then she didn't, then she wanted to put it away, then she had to get it, she didn't want it cut up...well you get the picture. My husband turned to me and said "I wish I could throw this hot dog at her!". Of course he wasn't serious, and I thought it was hilarious!

We do time outs on the time out stool, or she goes straight to her room until she is done!

Chels... Chelsea880

Liviann, I'm not a mother. I have no children of my own, but my sister has a zillion and she is one of those amazing moms that makes EVERYTHING and cooks from scratch...... I read your post to her and she asked me to tell you, that the fact you lasted all weekend before you broke makes you super mom! They is nothing wrong with needing a little me time.

Total... Totallysmitten

What about 11 month old whining?

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