Written by: Stephanie Williams, Coalition Coordinator, Arbor Circle
Welcoming a new baby? Parents and anyone who could be left alone to care for the baby (babysitters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) – should all know about The Period of PURPLE Crying. Infant crying can be extremely frustrating for new parents and caregivers. In fact, research shows that crying is the number one trigger for Shaken Baby Syndrome. This happens when an adult shakes a baby out of frustration which can cause death or permanent disability. Ottawa County is third in the state for the most cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Knowing the appropriate steps to take can reduce the likelihood of this from occurring.
What is The Period PURPLE CRYING
This is a stage in an infant’s development, traditionally know as colic, where their crying increases. This typically starts at about 2 weeks of age, peaking around 2 months before gradually decreasing. This stage can last up to 4-5 months. It’s important to remember that some babies will cry more than others but they all go through it this stage.
Why is this stage referred to as The Period of PURPLE Crying?
The word “PURPLE” is an acronym that represents a different characteristic of crying to help educate parents and caregivers about this important stage in a child’s development.
P: The P stands for Peak. The crying usually peaks at age 2 months. Note: This is the same time frame of when a lot of moms or dads return to work after maternity leave.
U: The U stands for unexpected. The crying is often unexpected. Everything could be going perfect and out of nowhere, the baby will have a bout of crying.
R: The R stands for Resist. The baby resists all efforts of soothing. Feeding, holding, bouncing, singing, changing baby’s diapers, etc. This can be very frustrating but trying different ways to soothe can help to reduce the crying up to 50 percent.
P: The P stands for Pain. The baby makes a face that may look like he/she is in pain. Usually, the baby is not in any pain. This is what typically worries parents the most, fearing that the baby could be sick or in pain. If you feel something is wrong with your baby, please consult your health care provider.
L: The L stands for long-lasting. These bouts can go on for hours, up to five hours a day.
E: The E stands for evening. The crying tends to happen more often in the evening. This happens to be right around the time when parents are getting home from work, trying to make dinner, etc. This can be exhausting for parents after a long day.
The good news is, the word Period means that this stage will come to an end! This stage usually ends at around 4-5 months.
What to do if your baby is experiencing a bout of inconsolable crying?
Remember that crying is a normal part of an infant’s development.
Understand that it is normal to feel overwhelmed and frustrated when a baby cries for prolonged periods of time. Not being able to soothe or quiet a baby can take an emotional toll on a new mom or anyone caring for the baby.
If you are getting frustrated because of the crying, focus on calming yourself down first. The best thing to do is to put the baby in its crib or in a safe place, free of pillows, blankets, and soft surfaces, and walk away for a few minutes until you are calm.
Try different things to soothe the baby, but also understand soothing may not always work, but it can reduce crying up to 50 percent.
· Bounce, rock the baby or take the baby for a stroller or car ride might change up the routine. The new scenery might be a welcome change for you and the baby
· Sing to the baby, your voice might calm the baby
· Introduce white noise, these repetitive noises such as a washing machine spinning, a fan blowing, water running from a faucet, might remind the baby of a time when they were inside their mom’s womb
· Hold your baby close, give hugs and kisses. Skin to skin contact might also help the baby to feel comforted
For more information on the Period of PURPLE Crying: