To evaluate the effectiveness of infant massage compared with that of a crib vibrator in the treatment of infantile colic.
Infants <7 weeks of age and perceived as colicky by their parents were randomly assigned to an infant massage group (n = 28) or a crib vibrator group (n = 30). Three daily intervention periods were recommended in both groups. Parents recorded infant crying and given interventions in a structured cry diary that was kept for 1 week before (baseline) and for 3 weeks during the intervention. Parents were interviewed after the first and third weeks of intervention to obtain their evaluation of the effectiveness of the given massage or crib vibration.
At baseline, the mean amount of total crying was 3.6 (standard deviation: 1.4) hours/day in the massage group infants and 4.2 (2.0) hours/day in the vibrator group infants. The mean amount of colicky crying was 2.1 (standard deviation: 1.1) hours/day and 2.9 (1.5) hours/day, respectively. The mean number of daily intervention periods was 2.2 in both groups. Over the 4-week study, the amount of total and colicky crying decreased significantly in both intervention groups. The reduction in crying was similar in the study groups: total crying decreased by a mean 48% in the massage group and by 47% in the vibrator group, and colicky crying decreased by 64% and 52%, respectively. The amount of other crying (total crying minus colicky crying) remained stable in both groups over the intervention. Ninety-three percent of the parents in both groups reported that colic symptoms decreased over the 3-week intervention, and 61% of the parents in the massage group and 63% of the parents in the crib vibrator group perceived the 3-week intervention as colic reducing.
Infant massage was comparable to the use of a crib vibrator in reducing crying in colicky infants. We suggest that the decrease of total and colicky crying in the present study reflects more the natural course of early infant crying and colic than a specific effect of the interventions.