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Keywords:

  • infant colic;
  • infant crying;
  • parents;
  • nurses;
  • nursing approach

Background. Colic, a condition that is well known to parents and nurses working in child health centres, is characterized by excessive crying. However, the criteria for defining colic are vague, there is no agreed definition and no effective treatment exists. Even though there is no cure for colic, nurses in child health centres have to deal with the condition as parents bring their crying infants to them.

Aim. To develop an understanding of how nurses deal with infant colic/excessive crying, how the parents perceive nurses' contribution, and whether nursing makes a difference to the situation or not.

Ethical issues and approval. The project was reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Committee in Norway where the study was carried out.

Methods.  The design is explorative, and data were collected through qualitative in-depth interviews with nurses and parents of crying infants. The analysis follows the guidelines of Kvale, which imply a phenomenological/hermeneutical mode of understanding.

Findings. The primary aim of nursing is to assist parents in their efforts to cope with the challenges of infant colic. Nurses and parents differ to some extent in how they define the problems and the needs of the families. In addition, both parents and nurses question the nurses' knowledge and ability to help in this situation. A relationship with the parents based on trust is fundamental to enable the nurses to achieve their goals, but such a relationship is not always developed.

Conclusions. Even though nursing interventions do not cure infant colic, the amount of crying may be reduced and life made easier for the families if the parents are offered help in coping with the situation. Consequently, this should be the primary aim of nursing when approaching families with a colicky infant.