The impact of infant crying on young women: A randomized controlled study

Sharon Bruning, Catherine McMahon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Infant crying is a common source of distress in parents. This study used an experimental paradigm to explore the impact of infant crying on mood, perceptions of temperament and caregiving behaviours in young women. The use of a life-like programmable baby doll with a real infant's cry sound recorded within it enabled rigorous control of the amount and intensity of crying exposure. Dependent variables included state anxiety, negative affect change after exposure and doll handling behaviour during exposure. Participants were 80 female undergraduate students (mean age519.62 years, SD52.02, all non-mothers). Results showed that exposure to infant crying had an immediate impact on young women's negative affect, state anxiety and was related to more negative perceptions of infant temperament. The study predictions regarding negative caretaking responses to crying could not be tested, but participant comments about feelings of self-efficacy in caretaking are discussed. The substantial shortterm impact that infant crying had on women's mood and affect confirms the need for health professionals working with new parents to be sensitive to the impact of persistent infant crying, both with regard to mood state and confidence in caretaking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-220
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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