Every parent knows that infants cry mainly for two reasons: when they need to be fed or when their wet nappies need changing. However, babies have different temperaments -- some tend to cry a lot, while others aren't as fussy. Nonetheless, once the problem is addressed, the crying usually stops.
It's a different story, however, when you've tried almost everything, and the little one still has tears in his eyes. For babies age three months or younger, the culprit could be colic -- defined as crying more than three hours per day at least three days apart, which usually lasts until the baby is three months old.
According to the latest meta-analysis of studies published in The Journal of Pediatrics, babies in the U.K., Canada, and Italy cry more than babies in other countries, while those from Denmark, Germany, and Japan cry the least. It's the first universal chart that shows the typical daily length of crying during a baby's first three months of life.
Researchers from the University of Warwick looked at nearly 8,700 babies and found that on average, they cry for around two hours a day in the first two weeks. The crying peaks at six weeks, stretching for about two hours and 15 minutes per day, but goes down to an average of one hour 10 minutes at 12 weeks. However, the study also found that there are infants who cry as little as 30 minutes, while there are some who cry for over five hours in a day.
"Babies are already very different in how much they cry in the first weeks of life," Dieter Wolker, one of the study's authors said in a statement. "We may learn more from looking at cultures where there is less crying and whether this may be due to parenting or other factors relating to pregnancy experiences or genetics," he added. Wolker suggests that the new chart may help reassure parents who worry that their baby cries too much.
Hearing your child cry and not being able to do much about it is a common cause of parents' stress during the first few months of parenthood. And since the real cause of colic has yet to be determined, it becomes all the more frustrating.
A common belief is that colicky crying happens when the baby has taken in too much air while suckling during breastfeeding, and that extra air in the stomach causes discomfort. Surprisingly, researchers noted that how a baby was fed does not have a significant impact on how much babies cry. "Bottle or mixed feeding was associated with reduced duration of fussing and crying or colic from three to four weeks of age onward," says the study.
Of course, the study results should be taken with a grain of salt. What seems to be a useful tip to calm colicky babies comes from another study, which mentions how Danish parents do it: they wait a minute or so to see if the little ones can self-sooth. It could be worth a shot before you run out of tricks up your sleeve in taming your baby’s cries.
What’s your no-fail trick in calming your crying baby? Share it with us. Send us a Facebook message.