Do Babies Around the World Suffer From Colic?
No matter where you live in the world, as the parents of newborns we all face many of the same issues, worries, joys and tears, and our little ones do as well. Babies suffer from colic the world over, but did you know that some countries have many fewer colicky babies than others, and some countries have lots more!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 10% of babies in the United States develop the incessant crying and crankiness that is the hallmark of colic, and it happens within the first few weeks of birth. That’s certainly a lot of babies, when you think about the fact that every year there are somewhere around 4 million babies born in the US.
But what about other places? Is colic just a fact of life for newborns and their parents?
In a recent UK study of over 8600 infants from around the world, University of Warwick Professor of Psychology Dieter Wolke analysed data from the 24 hour diaries of the parents of each newborn to find any patterns in the instances of colic in children. What he found, after completing the extensive analysis, was that three modern countries rank highest in the number of newborns suffering from colic.
Canada, the United Kingdom and Italy rank highest in the number of babies suffering from ‘textbook’ colic – that is, babies who cry at least 3 hours a day, nonstop, on at least 3 days in a week. Thirty four percent of Canadian babies and their parents deal with colic, while in the UK it’s 28 percent and 20 percent of Italian bambini cry consistently and inconsolably.
On the other end of the spectrum, Germany, Japan and Denmark fare the best. In Germany only 6.7% of babies are colic-y, and in Japan the number drops to a tiny 2 percent! Why is there such a dramatic difference in the overall number of colic-y children in each country? A number of factors probably play a part, but interestingly, Danish parents, of whom only 5.5% have to deal with colic-y newborns, typically hold their little ones up to 10 hours each day, keeping the little bundles of joy close while they go about their business each day.
What about cultural differences? Is just holding baby enough to keep your little one from crying and triggering that dreaded cycle of colic? The reality is that we just don’t know for sure, but in some cultures, keeping baby very close, feeding your little one anytime for as long as they will accept it, and letting those confidence destroying ‘shoulds’ fall by the wayside can really help keep you and your little one happy and tearless the majority of the time they are tiny.
And what if you’re in Canada, or the US, or anywhere where colic is rampant and dreaded? Relax! If your little one starts crying incessantly, just remember – you are NOT alone, you WILL get through this, and you can always reach out for help.
For more info on colic tips and tricks for parents and babies alike, check out our other articles and be sure to send in any questions and we’ll do our best to get to them all.