The sound of a baby crying can be distressing especially if you're a first-time parent. Does he need to feed, a nappy change, or just some cuddling? It's especially trying if you have a colicky baby where the crying can happen for more than three hours per day, at least three days apart, and it can last until the baby is three months old.
No one has conclusively uncovered the real cause of colic. But there's a new study that suggests if mom is happy, your baby's risk of developing colic may go down. We know what you're thinking: Can it really be that easy?
The study published in the recent issue of the journal Child: Care, Health and Development studied more than 3,000 women, aged 18 to 35 years old. They gave birth in 78 hospitals in Pennsylvania between January 2009 to April 2011. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University looked at their relationship happiness and social support as well as the support their partners gave in taking care of the baby.
The findings seem to show that a mom who felt happy about her relationship and is satisfied how her husband or partner is helping in child care had a less colicky baby. It is not clear how the association exactly works. "Maybe the baby cries less if the mom and dad are happier," Kristen Kjerulff, senior author of the study and professor of public health sciences, said via a press release. Another possible explanation: mothers in happier relationships may not perceive their baby's crying as negative, compared to women who are not happy in their relationships, she added.
The mom's happiness, however, isn't tied to a romantic partner. As the study notes, single moms and those who are experiencing postpartum depression claim to have less colicky babies. Kjerulff explains, "If you don't have a partner you can still have lots of social support, lots of love and lots of happy relationships, and all of that's going to be better for the baby. Love makes a difference."
"Mothers' significant others have a role to play in reducing the burden of colic. Society should avoid pinning the blame for colic on mothers' competence, self-esteem or depression," Chandran Alexander, study author and assistant professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine, added.
The study may have reported consistent links between a mother's happiness and infant colic, but there is cause to dig deeper and pinpoint the reason behind the association -- there is much research to be done still, in short. If anything, the study further strengthens previous research that claims a mother's overall well-being is tied to her baby's health.
It also underlines the importance of supporting a new mom well after giving birth. So, dads, hear this out: Your support and your help with taking care of the baby makes a difference, not just for your partners but most especially for your child's health.