Crabby Babies Fare Better With Family Over Day Care, Study Shows

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Babies


Fussy babies are better off with mommy than day care. Credit: Getty Images

If you have a fussy and irritable baby, you might want to leave him at day care.

Indefinitely.

But, alas, even if you don't want to be around the crabby little so-and-so, researchers at the University of Iowa say he wants to be with you.

In fact, he needs to be with you. Otherwise, he won't form that important parent-child bond and he's only going to get crabbier. Then God help us all.

The website LiveScience reports researchers found crabby kids do better when they are cared for by their parents or other family members.

"People have always thought of irritable, difficult babies as being more likely to have poor outcomes if they have stresses," researcher Beth Troutman, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, tells LiveScience.

"But the other side of that is that they're more likely to have good outcomes if they have more positive supportive environments," she adds.

Troutman's team assessed 48 babies for their level of crabbiness between 1999 and 2002, starting when the tots were just 1 month old.

During their babies' first years, moms were interviewed four times and were asked who had watched the baby over the past week and for how long. When the babies were 1 year old, they were videotaped interacting with their moms to see how well the two had emotionally bonded.

Researchers found the more time crabby babies spent in day care, the less likely they were to bond with their mothers. The non-crabby kiddies didn't have that problem.

Crabby babies may be particularly sensitive to their surroundings, Troutman tells LiveScience. Day care providers may not be able to respond to every cry, she adds.

"In a day care setting, it's hard to respond to six babies, and the irritable crying baby might not get as much attention or support in day care," Troutman tells the website.

Troutman adds that parents shouldn't make sweeping generalizations about day care based on this one study. However, if parents have sufficient resources, she nonetheless suggests they spend more time with their babies.

Especially the crabby ones.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.