Early infant crying and sleeping problems: A pilot study of impact on parental well-being and parent-endorsed strategies for management
Version of Record online: 13 APR 2007
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Volume 43, Issue 4, pages 284–290, April 2007
How to Cite
Smart, J. and Hiscock, H. (2007), Early infant crying and sleeping problems: A pilot study of impact on parental well-being and parent-endorsed strategies for management. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 43: 284–290. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2007.01060.x
- Issue online: 13 APR 2007
- Version of Record online: 13 APR 2007
- Accepted for publication 3 October 2006.
- infant crying;
- infant sleeping;
- maternal depression;
- paternal depression
Aims: Infant sleeping and crying problems are common and impact adversely on maternal mental health but their impact on paternal mental health is unknown. A consistent approach to managing such problems has not been identified. Parents may be able to identify useful management strategies, which could then inform the content of a prevention/early intervention approach to such problems. We aimed to determine the impact of infant behaviour problems on maternal and paternal mental health and management strategies that parents find useful.
Methods: Design: Pre–post intervention pilot. Setting: Paediatric outpatient clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. Participants: 71 mothers and 60 fathers of infants aged 2 weeks to 7 months recruited from July 2004 to April 2005. Main outcome measures: Pre and post questionnaires measuring maternal and paternal well-being (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)), parent report of infant behaviour problems, usefulness of consultation strategies.
Results: Three weeks post consultation, fewer parents reported that their infant’s behaviour was still a problem (64% of mothers and 55% of fathers). Thirty per cent fewer mothers reported an EPDS score >12 (45% pre vs. 15% post clinic) while 11% fewer fathers reported an EPDS score >9 (30% pre vs. 19% post clinic). Most parents (80% or more) rated exclusion of medical causes and information about normal sleeping/crying as useful.
Conclusions: Problem infant behaviours are associated with poor parental mental health. An intervention/prevention approach to infant behaviour problems should include fathers and contain information about normal infant sleeping and crying patterns and exclusion of medical causes.