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5 Facts About Grunting Toddlers

In case you didn’t know, children of all ages are small sound effects machines. And the sounds they make can run the gamut from barely noticeable to completely absurd. They’re kids, after all.

Depending on the sounds, they could indicate problems or just merely a way of expressing themselves. They left out the chapter on ‘sounds they make’ in your toddler manual. So you must be able to interpret them. Absurd or otherwise.

One of the sounds you may be hearing is not the family pig. It is your child, grunting. Is it a cause for concern? Do all children grunt? Does he want to live in a stinky pen and be fed from a trough?

The answers to some of these questions and more information are here. And now, we look at why my toddler is grunting?

Why Grunting?

Children of all ages make noises. And some grunt. Sometimes it is just a simple reaction to what’s going on around them. It’s a way of saying, “yeah, I agree!” or “I feel your pain.” From birth, children express themselves with whatever comes out first. Often it’s grunting.

If at first, your reaction is to smile and laugh at them. They soon associate grunting with making you happy. And your child is in the business of making you happy. Believe it or not.

By the age of 2 or so, the grunting could be a simple imitation of a sound they have heard. The ‘varoom-varoom’ car sound dad makes when playing with them can come out like a ‘grunt-grunt.’ As we all know, children are all about imitating. They should be called ‘parrots,’ but it sounds too much like ‘parents.’

As your child begins to grow and master the art of language, the ‘grunt’ eventually takes the shape of a word. Some children begin the language journey by pointing and grunting. It’s their way of saying, “give it to me.”

Does The Grunting Indicate Pain?

Yes, sometimes, a child will grunt to express they are in pain. The pain is usually a reaction to something stomach related. A child will often grunt when in the process of a bowel movement. And depending on the bowel movement itself, they may be experiencing discomfort.

Most of these types of discomfort come in the form of constipation. You can usually tell if a child is constipated by their stomach being rather hard. The grunting is their way of ‘getting stuff moving.’ The grunt can also be a reaction to the tightening of their stomach muscles to produce a stool. These types of grunts are normal, and unless they persist should cause no concern.

Severe or long-term grunting may indicate other problems. Children with respiratory problems will grunt, trying to make themselves get a full breath of air.

It may also indicate a gastrointestinal disorder other than constipation. If you think your child may be suffering from these or other issues, schedule an appointment with their doctor.

Grunting During Sleep

Is your child grunting in his or her sleep? Grunting during the sleep cycle is perfectly normal. It may be in response to their dreams, or simply a child’s version of snoring.

Sometimes a child may have a bowel movement in their sleep. These grunts can be attributed to the bowel movement, as mentioned before.

Suppose the grunt becomes louder or doesn’t go away after a few minutes. Try rolling the child over. If they persist, try resetting their sleep mode. Pick them up and comfort them. The grunting may disappear when they realize mom or dad is right there.

Speech Development

Excessive grunting past the three-year mark may be cause for concern. If the child is still pointing and grunting at age three, there may be speech development problems. Children will often grunt to get what they want. If you buy into the grunting instead of them asking, you may be part of the problem as well.

Proper speech patterns should begin to develop around the 2 to 2 and a half-year-old mark. If the child still grunts for attention past the age of 3, it starts a conditioning process.

Let them know you don’t understand grunting, and they need to ask for whatever is the issue. Grunting won’t get them a cookie. But asking for it will. Unless you are at grandmother’s house, then you get everything you want regardless. Asking, grunting, or otherwise. We’ve all been there.

Combating The Grunt

Let’s say you have ruled out any possibilities of the grunting being health-related. Yet it continues. It is becoming such an integral part of household noises you are almost becoming used to it. Before you break into a round of ‘Old MacDonald’ and use the child for the pig sound, try some remedies.

Make sure the child’s diet isn’t the culprit. If you are giving the child certain foods, especially before bed, they may be causing discomfort. Make a note of what they are eating and when they are eating eat. A simple change in routine may work.

Also, pay close attention to the child’s activities. If they are very active during the day and particularly before bedtime, it is an associated reflex to being overly tired. If the child has had a more active day than usual, it could be muscle soreness they are grunting about.

There is usually a perfectly logical explanation for the grunting, and it should become less obvious with time.


Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the reasons behind your small pig…I mean toddler’s grunting. Although it can, at times, be comical, long-term, it could indicate problems to be addressed by a doctor.

Just be aware it could be an indicator of pain. And I don’t know any parent who is going to tolerate their toddler’s in pain. Pay attention, be aware, remain calm, don’t build a pig-pen. Yet.

Just give them love and affection.

1 thought on “5 Facts About Grunting Toddlers”

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