Highest levels of colic found in those nations, with least crying in Denmark, Germany and Japan, according to research
Parents struggling with a wailing baby can rest assured they are not alone British babies cry more than in a number of other industrialised countries, a study suggests.
The first attempt to create a universal crying chart has found that babies in Britain, Canada and Italy cry more than those elsewhere.
The lucky parents who endure the least crying from their newborn babies are in Denmark, Germany and Japan, according to the research, published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
The study, a meta-analyis of 28 previous studies involving almost 8,700 infants, aimed to establish the prevalence of colic a harmless condition that can nevertheless be very distressing for parents and babies in the first three months of life.
The highest levels of colic, which was defined as crying more than three hours a day for at least three days a week, were found in the UK (28% of infants at one to two weeks), Canada (34.1% at three to four weeks) and Italy (20.9% at eight to nine weeks).
Lead researcher, Prof Dieter Wolke from University of Warwicks department of psychology, said: Babies are already very different in how much they cry in the first weeks of life there are large but normal variations. We may learn more from looking at cultures where there is less crying and whether this may be due to parenting or other factors relating to pregnancy experiences or genetics.
The paper speculates that reasons for differences between countries could range from levels of social inequality through to caregiving styles, maternal soothing techniques and patterns of feeding.
Bottle or mixed feeding was associated with reduced duration of colic from three to four weeks of age onward. Research published last month found almost three-quarters of women in England started breastfeeding after giving birth but less than half were still doing so two months later.
The lowest colic rates were reported in Denmark (5.5% at 3-4 weeks) and Germany (6.7% at 3-4 weeks). A previous study found parenting methods differed between Copenhagen and London, with parents in the Danish capital having more contact with their infants than their London counterparts, both when their offspring were crying and when awake and settled.
There was good news for parents of newborns struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. All studies examined by the University of Warwick researchers showed a crying duration that was higher across the first six weeks of life before reducing significantly across the subsequent six weeks.
They found babies cried for about two hours per day in the first two weeks and it generally peaked at about two hours and 15 minutes per day at six weeks, reducing gradually to an average of one hour and 10 minutes by the 12-week mark.
However, some infants were found to cry as little as 30 minutes, and others over five hours, in a day.
Wolke said: The new chart of normal fuss/cry amounts in babies across industrialised countries will help health professionals to reassure parents whether a baby is crying within the normal expected range in the first three months or shows excessive crying which may require further evaluation and extra support for the parents.
The study also included Australia, the Netherlands and the US.