Think your baby cries more than most? You might be right – new research has found British infants are amongst the most unsettled
British babies are amongst the greatest criers in the world, coming second only behind Canada. Researchers from Warwick University looked at data from almost 8,700 infants in industrialised countries, all of who were in their first 12 weeks of life. At the other end of the scale, Danish, German and Japanese babies are the most content, crying the least.
Published in the Journal of Paediatrics, the authors blame over-anxious parents for the stark differences, claiming German and Danish parents are more relaxed about their babies, and more likely to wait a minute or two to pick them up after crying starts. Although British parents spend less time holding their infants overall, they are quicker to pick them up when showing signs of distress. This perhaps unnecessary concern costs the NHS an estimated £70 million a year.
Professor Dieter Wolke, who led the research, said; “German and Danish parents are much less likely to get worked up and they will wait a little bit before they intervene [with crying] to see if the baby can self-soothe. The new chart of normal fuss/cry amounts in babies across industrialised countries will help health care professions to reassure parents whether a baby is crying within the normal expected range in the first three months or shows excessive crying which may require further evaluation and extra support for the parents.”
Over a quarter of babies in this country suffer from colic, which is defined as crying for more than three hours a day. By contrast, rates were as low as six and seven percent in Denmark, which also happens to be one of the happiest countries in the world. Across all countries studied, babies cried on average for two hours a day in the first two weeks after birth, peaking at two hours 15 minutes at six weeks of age, and eventually reducing to one hour and 10 minutes. Previous research found that around 40% of infant crying is inconsolable.