Caring For Your Crying Baby

For healthy infants, crying is very common – especially during the first 12 weeks of life. Crying usually increases between 2 and 6 weeks. Crying is the No. 1 reason parents shake and hurt their baby.

Shaking a baby is very dangerous and can cause:

  • Blindness
  • Seizures
  • Learning and physical disabilities
  • Death

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is the most common form of child abuse seen in children age 1 and younger. It’s also the leading cause of death in infants. About 80 percent of infants who survive SBS have permanent life-long brain abnormalities.

The Period of PURPLE Crying

The Period of PURPLE Crying® is a phrase used to educate parents about normal crying behaviors and the dangers of shaking babies. All babies go through this period of increased crying. Some babies cry a lot, and some far less – but all babies go through this period.

The letters in PURPLE stand for:

P: Peak of crying – Your baby may cry more each week; the most in month 2, then less in months 3 – 5.

U: Unexpected – Crying can come and go, and you don’t know why.

R: Resists soothing – Your baby may not stop crying, no matter what you try.

P: Pain-like face – A crying baby may look like they are in pain, even when they are not.

L: Long lasting – Crying can last as much as five hours a day, or more.

E: Evening – Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening.

Comforting your crying baby

Here are some tips to help you comfort your crying baby:

  • Rub your baby’s back
  • Gently rock your baby
  • Offer your baby a pacifier
  • Check to see if your baby is hungry, tired or needs a diaper change
  • Walk with, and talk to, your baby
  • Take your baby for a ride in the car
  • Listen to music with, or sing lullabies to, your baby
  • Give your baby a warm bath

Remember: These activities may lessen your baby’s crying, but they might not always work. This is not your fault, nor is it your baby’s fault. If you are feeling upset, frustrated or angry, ask a friend or relative to relieve you for a while.

If you are concerned that your baby’s crying is not normal, call your doctor or pediatrician.

The Period of PURPLE Crying® is a registered trademark of National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome and Ronald G. Barr, MDCM.


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