Early infant crying and sleeping problems: a pilot study of impact on parental well-being and parent-endorsed strategies for management

J Paediatr Child Health. 2007 Apr;43(4):284-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2007.01060.x.


Aims: Infant sleeping and crying problems are common and impact adversely on maternal mental health but their impact on paternal mental health is unknown. A consistent approach to managing such problems has not been identified. Parents may be able to identify useful management strategies, which could then inform the content of a prevention/early intervention approach to such problems. We aimed to determine the impact of infant behaviour problems on maternal and paternal mental health and management strategies that parents find useful.

Design: Pre-post intervention pilot.

Setting: Paediatric outpatient clinic at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.

Participants: 71 mothers and 60 fathers of infants aged 2 weeks to 7 months recruited from July 2004 to April 2005.

Main outcome measures: Pre and post questionnaires measuring maternal and paternal well-being (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)), parent report of infant behaviour problems, usefulness of consultation strategies.

Results: Three weeks post consultation, fewer parents reported that their infant's behaviour was still a problem (64% of mothers and 55% of fathers). Thirty per cent fewer mothers reported an EPDS score>12 (45% pre vs. 15% post clinic) while 11% fewer fathers reported an EPDS score>9 (30% pre vs. 19% post clinic). Most parents (80% or more) rated exclusion of medical causes and information about normal sleeping/crying as useful.

Conclusions: Problem infant behaviours are associated with poor parental mental health. An intervention/prevention approach to infant behaviour problems should include fathers and contain information about normal infant sleeping and crying patterns and exclusion of medical causes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Crying*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Parenting*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Victoria