Crying in the first year of life: good news in the midst of distress

Child Care Health Dev. 1998 Sep;24(5):425-39. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2214.2002.00092.x.


Excessive crying and colic in the first 3 months of life remain as mysterious and unsolved clinical problems. The mystery is contributed to by the relative lack of long-term follow-up studies. The findings from four new follow-up studies of infants with prior colic are analyzed in an attempt to derive a clearer picture of what 'life after colic' might be like for parents, infants, and their interactions. The bad news is that, for a subgroup of infants and parents, especially those with substantial additional risk factors, early excessive crying may not resolve, but evolve into a more generalized 'persistent mother-infant distress' syndrome. For some mothers of infants with colic, the risk of depressive symptoms or decreased self-efficacy may be increased. However, there appears to be good news for a substantial majority of infants with colic and for their parents. This includes a significant reduction over time in the amount of crying, intact parental and infant capacities to be responsive in interactive contexts, no significant maternal stress, and normal attachment relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colic* / psychology
  • Crying*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Stress, Psychological