Infant colic: A transient condition with no apparent effects

Cynthia A. Stifter, Julia Braungart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Few studies of infant colic have considered this condition within a developmental framework. In the present study infants identified as having colic were drawn from a longitudinal study of 100 infants. While in the hospital, all infants were administered two procedures that elicited negative reactivity. Mothers completed a personality inventory and a responsiveness questionnaire. Weekly telephone contacts with the parents helped to establish the presence of colic. To verify the colic and to document behaviors observed during a colic cry bout and a noncolic cry bout, mothers of the colic infants and mothers of a matched comparison group kept a diary between 6 and 8 weeks. At 5 and 10 months of age, all infants and mothers, including the colic and control subjects, participated in several laboratory procedures designed to measure infant negative reactivity, mental development, and maternal responsiveness. Mothers also completed an infant temperament questionnaire. No differences in either the newborn or maternal characteristics measured at birth were found between the colic and noncolic infants. Data obtained from the diaries support earlier reports that colic cry bouts are long in duration, very intense, and difficult to soothe. Several behavioral characteristics and symptoms were also observed by mothers to occur with significant frequency during a colic cry bout. By 5 and 10 months of age, the colic and comparison infants looked very similar on both behavior exhibited in the laboratory and rated by mothers. These data suggest that while colic cries are qualitatively as well as quantitatively intense, having colic is not associated with negative outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-462
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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