I firmly believe that anyone who survives the first year of parenting should get a reward of their choosing. Of course there's the happy baby, the huge slice of birthday cake, and all the beautiful memories, but I'm thinking of money or a car or something. And parents whose first year included helping their little ones get through the extreme fussiness and crying that comes with colic, well, they are the real MVPs, for sure. When it comes to getting through those early months of babyhood, it turns out that Canadians might actually deserve some kind of medal, as new research suggests that Canadian babies cry more than infants in any other industrialized country. Let’s send some happy thoughts and virtual hugs to our northern neighbors today, friends.
Published in the Journal of Pediatrics, the report surveyed the results from 28 prior studies on colic, a common ailment that causes bouts of crying and fussiness in infants. After analyzing data on more than 8,700 infants from around the world, researchers found that tiny Canadians cried longer and louder than other infants; Crying for more than three hours a day and three days a week was normal for some one in three Canadian babies, according to the study.
Babies in Italy and the United Kingdom were only slightly less likely to deal with the condition, at 21 percent and 28percent respectively. Parents in Germany, Japan, and Denmark got off the easiest it seems, as babies in those countries had a less than 5 percent chance of developing colic, sometimes crying as little as 30 minutes a day.
Yes, you read that right: There are places in the world where the average baby cries for just 30 minutes in 24 hours... maximum.
Researchers at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England made the discovery during an attempt to create the world’s first universal crying chart, essentially mapping how fussy babies from various countries are in the first months of life. To anyone wondering why such a chart would ever be created, psychology professor and the study’s lead researcher Dr. Dieter Wolke explained in a Newsweek interview that understanding the full range of what’s normal can reassure worried parents and help doctors quickly spot crying that might be cause for concern.
In an interview with The Guardian, Wolke added that differences in how babies are soothed and fed could help to explain the contrast:
Babies are already very different in how much they cry in the first weeks of life – there are large but normal variations. We may learn more from looking at cultures where there is less crying and whether this may be due to parenting or other factors relating to pregnancy experiences or genetics.
The countries where babies cried the least were also associated with high levels of contact between caregivers and infants, according to the study. Bottle feeding or mixing bottle and breastfeeding was also associated with shorter bouts of colic, The Guardian reported.
Of course, American parents might not be willing to shed too many tears for their Canadian peers. The recently announced changes to Canada’s parental leave benefit mean that mothers and fathers there will soon have more flexibility and support for getting through the first year of parenthood — and almost 18 months of government-paid leave to split between moms and dads for each birth. Without question, dealing with a wailing baby is difficult, but having a solid paid leave policy could certainly help take the stress off of parents as they try to find their bearings.
On second thought, forget the money and car that I mentioned before. As parenthood survival rewards go, Canada may have figured it out for all of us.