Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying: A Randomized Controlled Trial
The crying pattern of normal infants in industrialized societies is characterized by an overall increase until 6 weeks of age followed by a decline until 4 months of age with a preponderance of evening crying. We hypothesized that this "normal" crying could be reduced by supplemental carrying, that is, increased carrying throughout the day in addition to that which occurs during feeding and in response to crying. In a randomized controlled trial, 99 mother-infant pairs were assigned to an increased carrying or control group. At the time of peak crying (6 weeks of age), infants who received supplemental carrying cried and fussed 43% less (1.23 v 2.16 h/d) overall, and 51% less (0.63 v 1.28 hours) during the evening hours (4 PM to midnight). Similar but smaller decreases occurred at 4, 8, and 12 weeks of age. Decreased crying and fussing were associated with increased contentment and feeding frequency but no change in feeding duration or sleep. We conclude that supplemental carrying modifies "normal" crying by reducing the duration and altering the typical pattern of crying and fussing in the first 3 months of life. The relative lack of carrying in our society may predispose to crying and colic in normal infants.