Have you ever heard of the period of purple crying? As a nurse, I try to educate all parents about the period of purple crying.
What is the period of purple crying?
The period of purple crying is actually a normal stage in a baby’s development. The period of purple crying usually begins at around 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months of age. All babies go through this stage, though some will cry a lot and others will cry a lot less. It is called the period of purple crying, not because the baby turns purple, but because it is an easy acronym for parents to remember.
P – Peak of crying. Babies cry more and more every week until about 2 months, then start crying less in months 3-5.
U – Unexpected. Crying will come and go for no apparent reason.
R – Resists soothing. Nothing works to soothe your baby.
P – Pain-like face. Your baby may look like they are in pain, even if they are not in pain.
L – Long lasting. Crying can last for hours, sometimes even more than 5 hours a day.
E – Evening. The crying usually takes place in the late afternoon or evening hours.
To learn more about what the period of purple crying is, you can listen to Dr. Ronald Barr talk about it, or just read more info at the Purple Crying website.
Why does this matter?
Let me tell you, even as a nurse who was educated on the period of purple crying and who educated parents on this, I never thought about it when my daughter was born. The crying is frustrating and this is when most babies end up shaken, and then end up suffering from shaken baby syndrome. I never understood how a parent could ever shake their baby, until my daughter was crying nonstop from 5 pm to 9 pm or later, and I was home alone. I had thoughts of shaking her to make her stop crying and I even yelled at her once, after which I felt so guilty and scooped her up out of her crib and cuddled her. (You can read more on my story if you like.) I am not the only one who experienced this, you can even read other mom’s stories if you want.
What can I do?
If you find yourself frustrated with your baby’s crying there are several things you can do. Unfortunately you cannot keep your baby from going through this stage. If you find your baby crying you can try to soothe her, but it often does not work. In this case, you need to just do what you can, hold her, cuddle her, give her a bath, or put her in her swing. If you don’t feel like you can safely be around her, put her in a safe place such as a crib or playpen and walk away. If you have to shut the door to her room or walk outside that is fine. Call a friend or check out pinterest for a few minutes. When you feel calmed down, go back in and try to soothe your baby. The most important thing to remember is to never shake your baby as this can lead to lasting brain damage or even death.
Where can I get more information?
You can find more information on The Period of Purple Crying official website or the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome website. As always you can always ask me questions and your pediatrician is another great resource for any questions you may have!