New strategies for the treatment of colic: modifying the parent/infant interaction

J Pediatr Health Care. 1998 Sep-Oct;12(5):256-62. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5245(98)90206-1.


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to validate the effectiveness of behavior modification in treating colicky infants. Colic was defined as a self-limiting condition in infants less than 4 months of age with a complex of physical behaviors and inconsolable crying (> 2 hours a day for 3 days). It was hypothesized that when parents are given specific instructions about how to respond quickly and appropriately to their infant's cues (modification of the parent/infant interaction), the amount of crying by the infant decreases.

Method: A quasi-experimental design with an untreated control group and a pretest and posttest was used for the study. Twenty-three infants were randomly assigned to intervention, nonintervention, and control groups. Crying diaries kept by the parents were used to obtain quantitative measurements of crying before and after intervention. The Nursing Child Assessment Feeding Scale (NCAFS) was used to measure parent/infant interaction.

Results: Crying was significantly reduced from 3.79 hours per day to 1.12 hours per day (F = 46.00, df = 2, P < .05) among infants whose parents received interventions of individualized counseling and education. Caregivers of colicky infants in the intervention group scored lower on the NCAFS (F = 5.59, df = 2, P < .05).

Conclusions: Findings support previous research suggesting that crying can be reduced by modifying parental responses to the infant.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Colic / prevention & control*
  • Crying
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care / methods*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / education*