The need of having a plan in excessive infant crying - A qualitative study of parents' experiences of healthcare support

Acta Paediatr. 2023 Mar;112(3):434-441. doi: 10.1111/apa.16618. Epub 2022 Dec 14.


Aim: Excessive infant crying increases parents' concerns regarding their infant's health and the burden of parenting. We aimed to gain insight into the healthcare support needs of parents with excessively crying infants.

Methods: An exploratory qualitative study was conducted in the Netherlands. We performed semi-structured interviews with parents of 12 infants between June and December 2020, followed by inductive and deductive thematic analysis.

Results: Parents described what their needs were with regard to the assessment of infant crying and support by professionals. Long-lasting crying made parents feel that there must be a somatic cause. If they could soothe their infant, they gained more confidence that their infant was healthy. We identified four interrelated themes: (i) confidence in the professional; (ii) seeking a somatic cause for the crying; (iii) seeking acknowledgment; and (iv) exhaustion of parents and feelings of failure.

Conclusion: Parental support needs were best fulfilled by professionals who took them seriously, demonstrated medical expertise, and offered a practical plan. Perinatal parental education on normal infant behaviour and infant soothing techniques might improve parental self-efficacy at an early stage and prevent medicalization of excessive crying.

Keywords: excessive infant crying; healthcare needs; infant colic; interview; parental perspective.

MeSH terms

  • Crying*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Parenting
  • Parents*
  • Qualitative Research