Babies who cry persistently beyond 6 months of age are also likely to have problems eating and sleeping, say researchers from Munich, Germany.
In 2002, the parents of 1,865 children 4 years and younger reported how long and how many days a week their children cried and fussed during the first 3 months of infancy. The parents also noted whether the excessive crying lasted past 3 months, whether the child fussed or cried during mealtimes, and whether the child woke during the night at least five times a week. The researchers categorized a child as crying excessively if he or she cried at least 3 hours a day for at least 3 days a week for longer than 3 weeks.
The good news for most parents is that excessive crying rarely lasts past the 6-month mark. In this study, about 16% of 3-month-olds cried excessively, about 6% of children 3 to 6 months of age cried excessively, and just 3% of children older than 6 months cried excessively.
Children who cried excessively in the first 3 months of life weren't more likely to have sleeping or eating problems. However, children whose crying persisted past 6 months of age were nearly nine times more likely to fuss during mealtimes and almost seven times more likely to wake frequently during the night compared with children who didn't cry excessively.
What This Means to You. The reasons why infants cry aren't well understood, but the results of this study suggest that excessive crying might be related to other problems, including eating and sleeping difficulties. If your baby cries excessively (sometimes referred to as colic), first talk to your child's doctor about what to expect and ask for advice on strategies to deal with crying. To cope with the crying, you may want to try soothing music, burping your baby more often during feedings, or using a swing or vibrating chair.
Source: Rüdiger von Kries, MD, MSc; Helen Kalies, MSc, MPH; Mechthild Papousek, MD; Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, May 2006.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: June 2006