Baby Lost and Found: Mothers' Experiences of Infants Who Cry Persistently

Mary Erickson Megel, Margaret E. Wilson, Katherine Bravo, Nancy McMahon, Angela Towne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to describe mothers' experiences of parenting an irritable infant. Although "colic" is regarded as a "self-limiting" condition that usually disappears by 3 to 4 months of age, the entire family is affected by the infant's crying; no definitive cause or cure has been identified. Method: Sample and setting: Twelve middle-class married mothers (mean age = 27.6 years) of irritable infants were interviewed. The women responded to open-ended questions, beginning with a description of the "typical day" with the infant. All interviews were tape recorded, transcribed verbatim, and entered into the AtlasTi qualitative analysis program. Grounded theory methods were used to analyze the data. Transcripts were read repeatedly to verify coding and emerging concepts. Results: The basic social psychological problem was the loss of the perceived baby and competence as a mother. The psychosocial process was the search for the baby and sense of self as mother. Processes involved cycles of hope and despair and trial and error as mothers became more isolated. Discussion: Implications for practitioners include support and listening to mothers during this difficult period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-152
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Colic
  • Grounded theory
  • Irritable infant syndrome
  • Mothers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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