My daughter is 2.5 years old. When asking for things like "I want more water in the bottle" she used to ask nicely and even with "please" occasionally. All good and dandy.

Since her brother was born a month ago she always whine while asking for those things, no matter how small or trivial. She would still say the same words but accompanied with whine or cry.

I can see where it's coming from: her baby brother is getting more attention by crying but that doesn't help us.

We tried the following things:

  1. Ignore the whining and do her request. That of course failed.
  2. Kindly explain to her "no need to whine, you can ask nicely without crying". This help for one time only, and later she do the same again.
  3. Refuse her request on purpose and explain "we don't understand when you say it like this" waiting for her to ask nicely. Same as the previous step, she will ask nicely once then forget all about it.

Is there anything else we can do?

3 Answers 3


It's not necessarily related to her new sibling, although a new baby can definitely make it worse. That's pretty common behavior at that age, younger sibling or not. They call it the "terrible twos" for a reason.

You're pretty much doing the right thing with either option 2 or 3. Where you're going wrong is thinking it's not helping because it only works for that one time. You've heard people say you need to be consistent, but you're just now discovering how difficult that is. You have to respond the same way over and over and over and over and over before they start to get it. Then once they consistently ask nicely after a subtle reminder from you, you start expecting them to do it without a reminder, and repeat that over and over and over and over and over until they get that.

That's pretty much the job description of a parent. Constant repetition then slightly moving the goalposts. It often feels like you're not getting anywhere, then suddenly one day you'll see a child who acts like yours used to act, and realize you are making a difference.


It's hard for the little ones when they get a new sibling especially when they are still so young. The reason I found that happening with my son was, because he wasn't used to share the attention and was used to it that everything turned around him. Since having a sibling, the first few weeks was hard as he wanted to have all the attention. So what I did was to include him whenever I had to tend or are playing with his sister (4months). If she needs a diaper I would ask him to please get mommy a diaper, or when it is bath time I let him throw baby-powder over her tummy, or when we are playing I tell him that he did exactly the same or what he did when we were playing when he was still a baby.

Sure he is still small, but I've found that including him with everything (even making her bottle together) he has calmed down on whining or trowing tantrums to win the attention. He feels like he is together with us and he doesn't miss the attention of when he was alone anymore.

Just my opinion, everybody has a different way of dealing with it... But I truely believe by including the little youngsters in their baby siblings rutine and playtime helps a lot. They are even more helpful if they can do watever it is you're doing.

  • Nice words, thanks! Actually we do lots of what you said, have the daughter help by taking diaper or bottle to the baby and watch when we feed or change him. So far it did not help much, but your word reassures me that it's the right direction. Mar 11, 2013 at 9:23
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    At first it is a struggle, but it gets there, just hold on :) She is maybe still grasping the new "adventure"... Just include her as much as you can and explain how she was at that age (but be careful not to compare), that will help to explain that both she and now her brother has to cry (whine) to get what they need. Hope it all goes well!
    – Kerieks
    Mar 11, 2013 at 9:55
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    I'd like to add an explanation: Children need continuity. If the mother is busy with the newborn, the older child needs someone else to give her what is now lacking. This was easier in larger familiy structures and is a problem only in the mother-alone-at-home-with-her-kids situation. Including the child in the activities is a good patch, ideally someone like the father or other familiy members or friends would give the older child the attention that it has not stopped needing because it now has a sibling. It's a bit unfair to expect a child to suddenly not need the same amount of love.
    – user3140
    Mar 14, 2013 at 8:27
  • All you said is true, but like you said when you as mother is alone at home with your children there isn't somebody else to give your toddler the attention he needs.What I meant with not missing the attention of when he was alone is that he rather prefers now to play with his baby sister and me rather than playing alone or only us 2 playing.It's the togetherness which we had before she was born, but expanded it to not shut one child out because as a mother you have duties to all your children. Spending time or tending to baby will leave the older child feeling unwanted if he's not included...
    – Kerieks
    Mar 14, 2013 at 8:47

Sounds like she might be using the whining to get more attention. Have you tried scheduling some one-on-one time with her? My daughter spent the first few weeks her brother was home telling me she didn't love me anymore; it was the best way she could find to verbalize her jealousy, since he was getting more held time than she felt he was entitled to, and it cut into her parent time. Spending some one-on-one time with her nipped that in the bud.

See if you can schedule a Mommy-Daughter or Daddy-Daughter date, even if it's just for a walk around the neighborhood or some time playing Go Fish.

  • She does actually always get the full attention of one of us, and we do give her those "dates" you mentioned. She also does not show any sign of envy or anger, on the contrary she looks after the baby helping whenever she can and tell both of us she love us. Mar 7, 2013 at 20:58

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