Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Early infant crying as a behavioral state rather than a signal

Ronald G. Barr a1
a1 Centre for Community Child Health Research, British Columbia Research Institute for Children's and Women's Health Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3V4, Canada


I argue that in the first three months, crying is primarily a behavioral state rather than a signal and that its properties include prolonged and unsoothable crying bouts as part of normal development. However, these normal properties trigger Shaken Baby Syndrome, a form of child abuse that does not easily fit an adaptive infanticide analysis.