Hey, moms and dads, want to feel terrible about yourself? Look no further than a study out of Penn State which seems to suggest that your baby’s colic is actually all your fault! According to the study, a baby’s level of fussiness is tied to his mother’s happiness in her relationship, and her overall feeling of social support. Moms who report that they have supportive partners and friends are less likely to have fussy babies. So, basically, the baby’s fussiness is actually all Dad’s fault. Instead of just, you know, just a thing babies do. Okay?
The study included over 3,000 women in Pennsylvania between the ages of 18 and 36 who gave birth between January 2009 and April 2011. 11.6 percent of these women said their babies were suffering from colic (which is defined as fussiness for three or more hours a day), and these women reported lower levels of “maternal social support.”
But doesn’t anyone think that maybe (just maybe) moms are reporting that they feel less supported because their babies have colic, not the other way around? Like, if your baby is this cute, squishy, cuddling machine, who came fully loaded with all the latest adorable baby noises, you’re going to feel like your partner’s efforts to change and bathe him, or whatever, are good enough and please give me back my baby.
But if your kid is screaming into your face twenty-four hours a day at a decibel so high you’re afraid all your wine glasses might break, you’re probably going to feel like could someone please turn this baby off for a minute so I can hear myself think? And when your partner gently explains to you that that isn’t actually how babies work you’re going to feel betrayed and report to some weird scientist who randomly shows up and asks you, that your partner is a useless waste of space and where can you find another one, like, stat.
Because, seriously, how sadistic do you have to be to tell new parents that their baby’s fussiness is actually all their fault? Not their fault in some way that they could easily fix, like rocking the baby back and forth instead of up and down, or burping him before you lie him flat, or whatever. No, now we’re apparently meant to believe that our babies come equipped with some sort of magical relationship sensor that goes off if there’s any kind of marital tension between his parents. (A baby suddenly appeared, took over their lives, and changed everything forever. Of course there’s marital tension. But blaming the baby’s fussiness on that? Give me a break!)
Apparently the researchers have no idea why this correlation even exists. Kristen Kjerulff, the study’s senior author and a professor of public health sciences, said, “Maybe the baby cries less if the mom and dad are happier.” I don’t know about you, but in my experience, the only person’s happiness a baby cares about is his own. Moms, back me up on this: you can be curled up on the floor sobbing your eyes out and your baby will be hanging out in his little rocky thing cooing like a freaking pigeon and having a grand old time. Babies don’t care how you feel. They’re babies!
I mean, okay, it does seem like there’s some other stuff going on in this study since, apparently, some of the moms with colicky babies also reported feeling less supported before the babies were born. But seriously, you don’t know why babies are fussy? You still don’t know why babies are fussy? Don’t blame it on the parents!