Study shows British babies cry more than others

Newborn baby blanket

Ever feel like your baby really does cry more than others? You may well be right. Psychologists have developed the world’s first universal charts for normal amounts of crying in babies. The results aren't good news for British parents.

How much crying is normal?

It doesn't sound like much fun as a research project, but scientists at the University of Warwick analysed how long babies fuss and cried for over a 24-hour period during their first 12 weeks after birth.

My nearly 12-week-old seems to spend a good 50% of his waking time grizzling and crying. It used to be 100% – so I am grateful for a small reduction but I seem to spend my day trying to soothe him.

On average, babies around the world cry for around two hours per day in first two weeks, and peak at two hours 15 mins at six weeks. The average amount of crying reduces to one hour 10 minutes by week 12. However, some infants were found to cry for as little as 30 minutes – and others for over five hours – in 24 hours.

The researchers analysed the crying habits (we feel for them) of 8700 infants and found that babies cried the most in the UK, Italy, Canada and the Netherlands. The lowest levels of crying were found in Denmark, Germany and Japan.

How do I make my baby stop crying?

Researchers didn't look at why some babies cried more than others – but Professor Wolke says the chart of normal fuss/cry amounts could help health professional reassure parents whether a baby is crying within the normal expected range in the first three months. The research could also help health professionals decide whether a baby is crying excessively, which could prompt further evaluation and extra support for the parents.

“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.”

You can't turn a needy baby into a chilled out one. You just need to do whatever makes them happy.

What is certain, however, is that if you feel like your baby is crying all the time, you're not alone. For plenty of support from other parents going through the same thing with their lovely bundles of joy, head on over to Mumsnet Talk. Put on a brew and take comfort in the words of wisdom of thousands of Mumsnetters who've paced the floor at all hours with a wailing baby in their arms – and tried anything to just make the crying stop.

Could it be colic?

If a baby cries for more than three hours a day for at least three days a week, she is described as having colic. The highest levels of colic were found in the UK – it affects 28% of infants at 1-2 weeks. Colic is the name for excessive, intense crying. It normally stops when the baby is four months old, or six months at the latest. It's not known exactly what causes colic, but some experts think it is caused by trapped wind or a sensitivity to proteins found in breast or formula milk according to the NHS.

Looking after a colicky baby is incredibly hard to say the least, but you should be reassured that it's quite normal. Your baby is not rejecting you and you haven't done anything wrong. There are lots of support groups available as well as the thousands of Mumsnetters who will be someone to virtually talk to as you spend another evening up trying to soothe your baby. Your GP can also offer lots of help and support. Make sure you take time to look after yourself as well if your baby has colic.