Why Do Babies Cry?
This paper discusses the baffling phenomenon of extensive crying in infants for unknown reasons, frequently referred to as "colic." Traditional explanations based on gastrointestinal, allergenic, and psychosocial factors are discussed, and evidence supporting a stress-release theory of infant crying is presented. The various sources of stress during infancy are reviewed, and appropriate caregiving responses to crying are discussed. An important distinction is made between the two major functions of crying: communication of immediate needs, and the release of tensions resulting from past trauma. Inappropriate caregiving responses to crying are also described, as well as the possible consequences of repressed crying.
Ainsworth, M.D., Bell, S.M., and Stayton, D.J. (1971). Individual differences in strange-situation behavior of one-year-olds. In H.R. Schaffer (Ed.). The Origins of Human Social Relations. London and New York: Academic Press.
Aldrich, C.A., Sung, C., and Knop, C. (1945). The crying of newly born babies, II: Thfi individual phase. Journal of Pediatrics, 27, 89.
American Psychiatric Association: (1980). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition. Washington, DC.
Barnard, K.E. (1973). The effects of stimulation on the sleep behaviors of the premature infant. In M. Batty (Ed.). Western Journal for Communicating Nursing Research, Vol. 6.
Barr, R., Adamson, L., Bakeman, R., and Konner, M. (1987a). Crying in Kung infants: A test of the cultural specificity hypothesis. Pediatric Research, 21, A178.
Barr, R., Adelson, J., Tanser, C., and Wooldridge, J. (1987b). Effect of formula protein change on crying behavior. Pediatric Research, 21, A179.
Batchelor, E.S., Jr., Dean, R.S., Gray, J.W., and Wenck, S. (1991). Classification rates and relative risk factors for perinatal events predicting emotional/behavioral disorders in children. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 5(4), 327-346.
Bernal, J.F. (1973). Night waking in infants during the first 14 months. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 15(66), 760-769.
Brazelton, T.B. (1962). Crying in infancy. Pediatrics, 29, 579-588.
Brazelton, T.B. (1969). Infants and Mothers: Differences in Development. New York: Dell Publishing, Inc.
Brazelton, T.B. (1985). Application of cry research to clinical perspectives. In B.M. Lester and C.F.Z. Boukydis (Eds.) Infant Crying: Theoretical and Research Perspectives. New York: Plenum Press.
Brazy, J.E. (1988). Effects of crying on cerebral blood volume and cytochrome Aa3. Journal of Pediatrics. 112(3), 457-461.
Chamberlain, D.B. (1992). Is there intelligence before birth? Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 6(3), 217-237.
Crepeau, M.T. (1980). A comparison of the behavior patterns and meanings of weeping among adult men and women across three health conditions (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh). Dissertation Abstracts International, 42, 137.
Doust, J.W.L., & Leigh, D. (1953). Studies on the physiology of awareness: The interrelations of emotions, life situations, and anoxemia in patients with bronchial asthma. Psychosomatic Medicine, 15, 292-311.
Emerson, W.R. (1987). Psychotherapy with infants. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology News, 1(2).
Emerson, W.R. (1989). Psychotherapy with infants and children. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 3(3), 190-217.
Emerson, W.R. & Schorr-Kon, S. (1993). Somatotropic Therapy. In Innovative Therapies. Open University Press, London.
Evans, R.W., Fergusson, D.M., Allardyce, R.A., & Taylor, B. (1981). Maternal diet and infantile colic in breast-fed infants. Lancet, 1340-1342.
Fagot, B.I., and Kronsberg, S.J. Sex differences: biological and social factors influencing the behavior of young boys and girls. In S.G. Moore and C.R. Cooper (Eds.). The Young Child: Reviews of Research (Vol. 3). National Association for the Education of Young Children, Washington, DC.
Field, TM. and Goldstein, E. (1984). Pacifying effects of nonnutritive sucking on term and preterm neonates during heelsticks. Pediatrics, 74, 1012-1015.
Frey II, WH. and Langseth, M. (1985). Crying: The Mystery of Tears. Minneapolis: Winston Press, Inc.
Frodi, A. (1985). When empathy fails: Aversive infant crying and child abuse. In B.M. Lester and C.F.Z. Boukydis (Eds.). Infant Crying: Theoretical and Research Perspectives. New York: Plenum Press.
Gardner, L. (1972). Deprivation dwarfism. Scientific American, 227, 76-82.
Gerber, M. (1979). The RIE Manual. Los Angeles: Resources for Infant Educarers.
Graham, O.T and Wolf, S. (1950). Pathogenesis of urticaria. Psychosomatic Medicine, 13, 122.
Heron, J. (1977). Catharsis in Human Development. Human Potential Research Project, Department of Adult Education, University of Surrey, United Kingdom.
Hunziker, V.A. and Barr, R.G. (1986). Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 77, 641-648.
Illingworth, R. (1954). Three-months colic. Archives of the Diseases of Childhood, 29, 165-174.
Janov, A. (1973). The Feeling Child. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Jakobsson, I. & Lindberg, T. (1983). Cow's milk proteins cause infantile colic in breastfed infants: a double-blind crossover study. Pediatrics, 71, 268-271.
Janov, A. (1983). Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc.
Jewett, C. (1982). Helping Children Cope With Separation and Loss. Boston: The Harvard Common Press.
Jones, S. (1983). Crying Babies, Sleepless Nights. New York: Warner.
Jorup, S. (1982). Colonie hyperperistalsis in neurolabile infants. Acta Pediatrica Uppsala, Supplement 85, 1-92.
Karle, W., Corriere, R., and Hart, J. (1973). Psychophysiological changes in abreaction therapy. Study I: Primal Therapy. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 10, 117-122.
Kirkland, J. (1985). Crying and Babies: Helping Families Cope. Dover, NH: Groom Helm Ltd.
Kitzinger, S. (1989). The Crying Baby. Viking.
Korner, A.F. (1987). Infant stimulation: issues of theory and research.
Lakin, M. (1957). Personality factors in mothers of excessively crying (colicky) babies. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 22, 1-48.
Levine, P. (1994). Understanding Childhood Trauma. Mothering, 71, 49-54.
MacFarlane, J.W., Allen, L., and Honzik, M.P. (1954). A developmental study of the behavior problems of normal children between 21 months and 14 years. University of California Publications in Child Development (Vol. 2). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Magid, K and McKelvey, C.A (1987). High Risk: Children Without a Conscience. New York: Bantam Books.
Mednick, S.A. (1971). Birth defects and schizophrenia. Psychology today, 4, 49.
Murray, A. (1979). Infant crying as an elicitor of parental behavior: An examination of two models. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 191-215.
Murray, A.D., Dolby, R.M., Nation, R.L., & Thomas, D.B. (1981). Effects of epidural anesthesia on newborns and their mothers. Child Development, 52, 71-82.
O'Gonnan, G. (1970). The Nature of Childhood Autism. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Ostwald, P.F. and Murray, T. (1985). The communicative and diagnostic significance of infant sounds. In B.M. Lester and C.F.Z. Boukydis (Eds.). Infant Crying: Theoretical and Research Perspectives. New York: Plenum Press.
Paradise, J.L. (1966). Maternal and other factors in the etiology of infantile colic. Journal of the American Medical Association, 197, 123-131.
Peters, E. H. (1994). Is colic a by-product of exterogestation? Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 8(4), 249-258.
Provence, S. and Lipton, R.C. (1962). Infants in Institutions. New York: International Universities Press.
Restak, R.M. (1979). The Brain: The Last Frontier. New York: Doubleday.
Roedding, J. (1991). Birth trauma and suicide: A study of the relationship between near-death experiences at birth and later suicidal behavior. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 6(2), 145-167.
Riley, C.M., Day, R.L., Greeley, D.M., and Langford, W.S. (1949). Central autonomie dysfunction with defective lacrimation. I.Report of five cases. Pediatrics, 3, 468-478.
Shaver, B.A. (1974). Maternal personality and early adaptation as related to infantile colic. In P.M. Shereshefsky and L.J. Yarrow (Eds.), Psychological Aspects of a First Pregnancy and Early Postnatal Adaptation. New York: Raven Press.
Shostak, M. (1981). Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. New York: Vintage Books.
Solkoff, N. & Matuszak, D. (1975). Tactile stimulation and behavioral development among low-birthweight infants. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 6(1), 33-37.
Solter, A. (1984). The Aware Baby: A New Approach to Parenting. Goleta, CA: Shining Star Press.
Spinelli, D.N. (1987). Plasticity triggering experiences, nature, and the dual genesis of brain structure and function. In N.J. Skillman (Ed.). Infant Stimulation: For Whom, What Kind, When, and How Much? P