New research published in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development suggests that husbands may play a significant role in whether or not a baby has colic.
We’ve known for a long time that a mom’s ongoing (“trait”) depression or anxiety – both prenatally and postnatally – are correlated with having a fussy baby. However, the role of the father has largely been ignored in the research.
The present study, however, looked at whether a mom’s a) general support system, b) happiness with her marriage, and c) support of the partner in caring for the baby had an impact on the baby’s level of fussiness.
The results were pretty surprising: the #1 factor that “protects against” colic is the mom’s happiness with her marriage. In other words, moms who reported high levels of marital satisfaction prior to and after giving birth were less likely to have a colicky baby; and this was the case even when the mom was suffering with depression.
What’s even more surprising is that marital happiness was even more of a “protective factor” against colic than having a partner who helps care for the baby.
This means it may be even more helpful for a husband to work hard at keeping his wife happy than it is for him to help with the baby (not that I recommend not helping with the baby!).
Finally – and not so surprisingly – the study found that moms who had high levels of social support, both before and after giving birth, were less likely to have colicky babies.
While this study certainly seems to suggest that parents – and particularly fathers – can have a direct impact on colic, the truth probably isn’t quite so cut and dry.
There are a few important things to keep in mind before jumping to that conclusion:
While this research isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it’s interesting to consider how husbands or partners may be able to help reduce colic symptoms. It’s clear that partners play an important role, both through being supportive of the mom, and by caring for the baby.
While this is likely an indirect effect – the partner’s help and care reduce the mom’s stress levels, thereby making her a more effective and happy mom – it’s a great reminder to new parents that your relationship matters more than you think!
Interested in learning more about the research on fussy babies? Like how having a fussy baby impacts a marriage, or whether a stressful pregnancy or birth could cause colic? If so, download my free, 4-page High Need Baby Fact Sheet now!
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