Why Danish babies cry less than British ones

A study out this week showed that British babies cry a lot more than Danish ones and zombie-eyed parents are trying to figure out why. Some say it’s because Denmark has much higher breastfeeding rates, which is associated with less crying, but others say it could be down to a lot of things.

An analysis of previous studies involving 8 700 infants published in the Journal of Paediatrics found that at one to two weeks, 28% of babies in the UK had colic – that is, they cried more than three hours a day for at least three days a week. Denmark had the lowest colic rates, with only 5.5% of babies crying this much at three to four weeks at age.

Dieter Wolke, a professor of psychology from Warwick University and one of the lead researchers on the study, told BBC World that Danish parents are more likely to wait a minute or two after the baby starts crying to see whether they will self-soothe. Before you cry foul, note that the Danes were also more likely to keep their babies close by.

Wolke said Danish mothers are also probably less stressed during pregnancy because of the country’s famously generous maternity leave policies, so the babies are exposed to less of the stress hormone cortisol during pregnancy and as a result are calmer afterward.

And then there’s just genetics – Danish people might simply be genetically coded to be calmer, he said.

There was a silver lining to all this, though. “Forty percent of the crying in the first three months is inconsolable,” Wolke told BBC World

So rest assured. Even if you did everything perfectly in those early months, 40% of the time you’d still be stuck with a hysterical baby. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Try not to freak out about it.

You can listen to the interview below:

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