When Your Baby Won’t Stop Crying


THE doctor confirmed what the mother already suspected. Her baby had a classic case of colic. This syndrome affects “as many as one in four children,” says the Globe and Mail newspaper of Canada. Symptoms of the condition include several hours of crying for at least three days a week. What can an anxious parent do? Pediatricians say that in many cases the parents​—and child—​may simply have to wait it out. But for how long?

A new Canadian study of mothers with colicky babies reveals that more than 85 percent of colic cases abated by the time babies were three months old. The research, authored by Dr. Tammy Clifford, director of epidemiology at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, also revealed that having a colicky baby leaves no lasting effect on mothers’ mental health. “By six months postpartum, they’re exactly like Moms without colicky babies,” says Dr. Clifford. “It’s almost like amnesia sets in after the crying stops.”

This new research published by Dr. Clifford and her colleagues, says the Globe, “adds important details to the scientific knowledge about colic because it shows there are three distinct classes of colicky babies: those whose condition appears and clears up some time within the three-month period; those who have persistent colic that lasts for several months without letting up; and a small group who develop colic relatively late, a few months after birth.” A follow-up study is being done to chart the development of colicky children as they grow up, and it is the latter group that is particularly intriguing.

Incessant crying is believed to be a trigger in cases of shaken baby syndrome. As reported in the Globe, “the crying itself will not harm the child, but shaking a baby violently, even for a short period of time, can cause lasting neurological damage, and even death.”

On the other hand, there may be a bright side to an infant’s crying, even if it is incessant. “Research has demonstrated that infants who cry a lot actually get a lot more attention from their caregivers,” says the Globe, with “more touching, more smiles, more talking and more holding.”