Until a baby is about 5 months old, he goes through a stage of development that the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome calls "The Period of PURPLE Crying".
The common characteristics of this phase are described using the acronym "PURPLE":
Peak of crying: Crying peaks during the second month, then decreases during months 3-5
Unexpected: Crying may come and go unexpectedly for no apparent reason
Resists soothing: Crying may continue despite all soothing efforts by caregivers
Pain-like face: Infants may look like they are in pain, even when they are not
Long lasting: Crying can go on for 30-40 minutes at a time, and often for much longer
Evening: Crying may occur more in the late afternoon and evening
Sooth a Crying Infant
Soothing is a way to calm your baby. Soothing techniques should be used even when your baby is not crying.
The list below is not an all-inclusive list, as there are many other things you can try to calm your baby's crying. While many of these techniques will work most of the time, nothing works all the time and that is okay. This does not mean there is anything wrong with you or your baby.
- Check to see if your baby is hungry, tired, or needs changing. Hunger is the main reason a baby will cry.
- Burp your baby. Babies do not have a natural ability to get rid of air built up in their stomach.
- Give your baby a lukewarm bath.
- Massage your baby, or hold him close with skin-to-skin contact.
- Make eye contact with your baby, smile and kiss your baby.
- Sing softly, or hum in a low tone against your baby’s head.
- Take your baby on a walk or for a ride in the car.
What if the Baby Won't Stop Crying?
When the crying becomes frustrating and you’ve tried everything to soothe your baby, it’s important to take a break.
If a trusted caregiver is not available to help with the baby for a while, put your baby in a safe place and walk away. Take a few minutes to calm yourself down, then go back and check on the baby.
When you take a break, do things that will relax you, such as listening to music, reading a book, taking a bubble bath or having a cup of tea.
Be sure to share this information with all caregivers of your baby.
For more information on the Period of PURPLE Crying, visit www.PURPLEcrying.info.
Professionals, read more information on the program expansion in Georgia.