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 three to five.
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.
Soothe 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.
More information about the Period of PURPLE Crying
Created by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, The Period of PURPLE Crying® is an evidence-based infant abuse prevention program which educates parents and caregivers about normal infant crying and the dangers of shaking an infant.
The Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta began implementing The Period of PURPLE Crying® program in October 2009 in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Children’s at Scottish Rite location.
Since then, we have added the program to the services included at the Children’s at Egleston NICU, our primary care center in Chamblee, the special care unit and prenatal classes at Northside Hospital-Atlanta, and more.
The Center for Safe and Healthy Children is currently partnering with over 20 different organizations in the state which will serve approximately 30,000 families with PURPLE. We are working towards expanding the reach of this program through new partnerships. For more information about The Period of PURPLE Crying® program and its implementation in Georgia, contact Elizabeth Williams.
For more information on the Period of PURPLE Crying, visit www.PURPLEcrying.info.