When my mother returned from her first visit to the US, she told how she would fawn over the beautiful babies there. She had rarely seen babies cry when she visited a public place.
It was an interesting observation, I thought. A smiling baby is the most cloying thing in the world; a crying one most heart-wrenching. Your cheeks go red with embarrassment if your baby cries at top pitch while you are at a public place or social gathering. Your baby has all the valid reasons to cry. However, from my mother’s observation, I got curious over how babies’ cries may vary from country to country.
Indeed, babies in certain countries cry more than usual. Recently, it emerged that babies cry the most in UK, Canada, Italy, and Netherlands; while babies cry the least in Denmark, Germany, and Japan. Through a recent study at Warwick University, scientists have come up with the universal charts of how much babies under three months can cry. Scientists carried out studies over 8,700 babies from around the world. They found that babies cry on an average for about two hours a day in the first two weeks. In the following weeks, they cry longer. At six weeks they cry on an average for two hours and 15 minutes a day. By the 12th week, the crying comes down to one hour ten minutes.
On the other hand, some infants can cry for just about 30 minutes while some can be on the extreme spectrum of crying over five hours in a twenty-four hour period.
The level of crying in babies is defined as colic. The highest colic levels are at more than three hours a day for about three days a week. In the UK, the highest colic levels were at 28% of infants who were one or two weeks old. This was followed by Canada at 34.1% of the infants between three and four weeks. Italy recorded a 20.9% rate of colic babies at eight to nine weeks while Denmark reported the lowest colic rate at 5.5% at three to four weeks. In Germany, the colic levels were recorded at 6.7% for three to four-week olds.
It might be hard to figure out if your baby is simply crying too much or whether he is suffering from colic. In the 1950s the Wessel criteria was formulated which helped in determining the same. Since childcare has changed in the past fifty years around the globe, there are also a new set of universal guidelines to be adopted by present-day health professionals and parents to evaluate what is normal or what is excessive crying in babies.
Dr. Wolke from the study team suggests that the amount of crying might depend on cultural or parenting factors. It might also be linked to pregnancy experiences and the role of genetics. While keeping the new chart from Warwick University in view, babies from the countries where they cry the least, could be set as a control group to determine if a baby is crying within the normal range in the first three months, or whether the baby displays excessive crying which may need further evaluation and support from parents.
This study and analysis would go a long way in understanding how to calm crying babies and also keeping parents from being red faced and troubled.