Infant Mental Health for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner


Inconsolable crying and irritability may be a sign of many different illnesses in babies. Of course, frequent crying for any reason may cause increased stress in parents, so it is important to help parents understand normal crying parameters, to support parental emotions, to encourage parents to seek help from supportive family and friends, and to reinforce that the crying does not mean their baby does not like them. The PNP should note the pitch of infant’s crying as it may be a sign of neurologic or genetic issues. Pain should be assessed in the context of maternal sensitivity, emotional displays, cultural, and socioeconomic factors (Riddell & Racine, 2009). 

There is evidence that early skin-to-skin contact and infant massage help reduce infant crying (Moore, Anderson & Bergman, 2009: Underdown, Barlow, Chung, Stewart-Brown, 2009). There is currently a plan for systematic review of chiropractic interventions to reduce infant colic at the Cochrane Library.

References and Resources:

Integrated Care Model for Babies and Families helps with Colic:

Fussy Baby Network:

Jordan, B., Heine, R., Meehan, M., Catto-Smith, A., & Lubitz, L. (2006). Effect of antireflux medication, placebo and infant mental health intervention of persistent crying: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 42, 49-58. 

Kaley, E., Reid, V., & Flynn, E. (2011) The psychology of infant colic: A review of current research. Infant Mental Health Journal, 32, 526-541.

Period of Purple Crying:

Riddell, R. & Racine, N. (2009). Assessing pain in infancy: The caregiver context. Pain Research Managment, 14: 27-32.