Baby please stop crying: an experimental approach to infant crying, affect, and expected parenting self-efficacy

E.S.A. de Cock, J. Henrichs, C.H.A.M. Rijk, H.J.A. van Bakel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The present study examines the effect of infant crying on parental affect, state anxiety and parenting self-efficacy in an experimental setting.
Infant crying causes distress and feelings of incompetence in many parents. These frustrating parental feelings can lead to suboptimal caregiving behaviour or even child abuse. Studies focusing on the effects of infant crying experience causality issues, as parental behaviour can also increase infant crying.
One hundred and sixteen students of Tilburg University were asked to babysit a life-like crying doll for 10 minutes. Participants were exposed to either no crying, 5 minutes of crying, or 10 minutes of crying.
Participants in the crying conditions experienced more negative affect, state anxiety, and felt less confident about their ability to parent in the future. Conclusion:
These findings have implications for the parents of newborn babies who experience distress and feelings of incompetence caused by infant crying.
Keywords: infant crying, affect, state anxiety, parenting self-efficacy, experiment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-425
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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