Method: We studied mother-infant, father-infant and mother-father interaction in 32 families with an excessively crying infant and in 30 control families. The group with excessive criers was divided further into subgroups of severe colic (n=13) and moderate colic (n=19). The three dyads of the family were video-recorded when the infants were an average of 5 weeks old. The assessment was carried out during the infant's feeding, nappy change and discussion between the parents. During the assessment, only four infants were crying. The Parent Child Early Relational Assessment Scale and the Beavers Scale were used.
Results: The main findings suggest that both parents of colicky infants had less optimal parent-child interaction compared with the control parents. The problems in the interaction were most pronounced between the fathers and infants in the severe colic group. The father-infant interaction was less optimal in 13 items of 65 (20%) in the severe colic group, in one item of 65 (2%) in the moderate colic group and in none of the items in the control group. The mother-infant interaction was less optimal in six items out of 65 (9%) in the severe colic group, in three items out of 65 (5%) in the moderate colic, and in none of the items in the control group. Severely colicky infants were also less competent in interacting with their parents. In addition, interaction between the parents was more often dysfunctional in the severe colic group.
Conclusions: The problems in early family interaction may threaten the well-being of families with excessively crying infants and they therefore deserve special attention from the health care professionals.