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Med J Aust. 2004 Nov 1;181(9):507-12.

1. Problem crying in infancy.

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  • 1Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Melbourne, VIC 3052, Australia.


Up to 20% of parents report a problem with infant crying or irritability in the first 3 months of life. Crying usually peaks at 6 weeks and abates by 12-16 weeks. For most irritable infants, there is no underlying medical cause. In a minority, the cause is cow's milk and other food allergy. Only if frequent vomiting (about five times a day) occurs is gastro-oesophageal reflux a likely cause. It is important to assess the mother-infant relationship and maternal fatigue, anxiety and depression. Management of excessive crying includes: explaining babies' normal crying and sleeping patterns; helping parents help their baby deal with discomfort and distress through a baby-centred approach; helping parents recognise when their baby is tired and apply a consistent approach to settling their baby; encouraging parents to accept help from friends and family, and to simplify household tasks. If they are unable to manage their baby's crying, admission to a parenting centre (day stay or overnight stay) or local hospital should be arranged.

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