One of the most common things a child does is cry. This is the child’s way of calling for help, or asking for something, be it food, comfort, or attention. Some children rarely cry while some cry more than others. Although fussy toddler behaviour is a natural occurrence, some parents get alarmed especially when they think they’ve checked all possible reasons why the child is crying and have found nothing as the root cause.
Dealing with Fussy Toddler Behaviour
By paying close attention and observing how your toddler cries and what particular situations usually make them cry, you can learn how to effectively respond to each situation.
If you’re one of those parents whose child seem to cry more often than usual, here are some possible reasons behind fussy toddler behavior and what you can do to address them:
They Feel Uncomfortable
Because a toddler has yet to develop their full verbal ability, they can’t explain what they want and how they feel. In order to be heard, they resort to crying or throwing tantrums.
Tantrums tend to decrease as children grow older when they are better able to communicate their wants, needs, and feelings3.
Some children have a sensitive temperament and are more likely to cry than other children5. But by and large, crying is normal behavior for toddlers.
They may cry because they do not get their way. For instance, they may cry because they don’t want to nap2. Toddlers may also throw tantrums due to wanting more independence in their activities and are trying to express this2.
On the other hand they may be trying to express unhappiness, that may stem from being tired, hungry, or otherwise uncomfortable3 4.
They may be feeling pain or discomfort due to ailments, such as food allergies or reflux2.
Stomach pains or discomfort is one of the most common reasons as to why you may be dealing with fussy toddler behaviour.
They May Have Digestion Issues
Your child may also experience stomach pains and gassiness, causing them to display fussy toddler behaviour.
Gassiness occurs when the child has eaten certain foods and drinks that cause gas to build up in their gut. To help avoid gassiness, it helps to cut down on foods such as fried and fatty foods, beans, and certain vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, broccoli, and asparagus7 6. It also helps to avoid carbonated drinks and artificial sweeteners6.
Most of the time, gassiness is a passing condition and your child will not need medical treatment.
Sometimes, your child’s stomach problems might be caused by diarrhea. This is when your child experiences frequent loose bowel movements8. These instances are typically caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Diarrhea may also be the result of eating a lot of sugar, being allergic to certain food, lactose intolerance, or problems with the intestines. However, cases of diarrhea usually clear up on their own8.
Another reason behind fussy toddler behaviour is constipation. This is particularly common with children who are being potty trained1. If your toddler is experiencing any of the below symptoms, there’s a huge chance that constipation might be the reason behind the tears1:
Toddler hasn't pooped at least three (3) times in the past week
Toddler’s poop may either be like pellets or large and hard (may have some blood due to the size and consistency of poop)
Toddler appears to be straining or in pain while pooping
To help prevent constipation, a dietary change may be recommended2. Make sure your child drinks a lot of water. Also make sure he/she eats food that is high in fibre to support healthy digestion.
Knowing your child’s allergies or sensitivities to food and food components may also help in dealing with this problem. Talk to your doctor about what food and drinks support a healthy digestion for your child. Adding the suggestions to your child’s diet may ease your worry and help your crying child.
- Constipation in children (2020). Retrieved on September 27, 2020 from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/constipation-and-soiling/
- Constipation in children (2017). Retrieved on September 27, 2020 from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Constipation.aspx
- Temper Tantiums (June 2018). Retrieved 29 October 2020 from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/tantrums.html
- Settling 1-3 years (2020). Retrieved 29 October 2020 from https://www.tresillian.org.au/advice-tips/settling/1-3-years/
- Understanding Temperament: Emotional Sensitivity (n.d.). Retrieved 29 October 2020 from https://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/child-development/understanding-temperament-emotional-sensitivity/
- Gas (flatulence) (July 2019). Retrieved 29 October 2020 from https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/article?contentid=822&language=english
- Gas and Bloating in Children: Care Instructions (June 2019). Retrieved 29 October 2020 from https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=bz1073
- Diarrhea (June 2019). Retrieved 29 October 2020 from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/diarrhea.html