The Period of PURPLE Crying


So Marcus just participated in a study that was done on parents of newborns. He had to take a recording of Littlebean’s cry, fill out a questionnaire and he had to go in for an MRI. Still not completely sure what they were looking for but they gave him a booklet and a disc called “The Period of PURPLE Crying”. He brought it home and suggested that I watch it because he thought I would find it interesting.

The program was developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome and is meant to help educate new parents on what to expect in the first 5 months of crying in a newborns life. It is meant to help parents understand their child’s crying and to minimize frustration by knowing that it’s normal.

The letters in PURPLE stand for:

P- Peak of Crying

  1. Your baby may cry more each week, the most in month 2, then less in month 3-5

U – Unexpected

  1. Crying can come and go and you don’t know why

R – Resists Soothing

  1. Your baby may not stop crying no matter what you try

P – Pain-Like Face

  1. A crying baby may look like they are in pain, even when they aren’t

L – Long Lasting

  1. Crying can last as much as 5 hours a day, or more

E – Evening

  1. Your baby may cry more in late afternoon and evening

The first time I read this I was slightly confused about it and wasn’t sure what I thought. I’ve read it a few time since and watched the video and I can now get behind and understand better the reasoning behind it. When I look back at when Jellybean was born I can remember him being exactly like this. As a first time mother I wasn’t prepared for the amount of crying and the fact that I would do everything for him and he would still cry. When he was born we were stuck in the hospital for a few extra days because he was dehydrated and not going to the bathroom. I fell into the formula trap and continued topping him up with formula after I breastfed him. I was terrified of him becoming dehydrated again so any little cry or whimper then I was feeding him thinking he was hungry all the time. It wasn’t until I talked to the registered nurse at my doctors office about my concerns and wishes to exclusively breastfeed that she told me to just breastfeed him and if he’s crying he might just be fussy, some babies just cry. Only difference between Jellybean and this study is that he was fussy during the day time not in the evening. Around the time that I started exclusively breastfeeding he was close to 3 months old, and according to this study that’s around the time the crying starts to decrease.

When Littlebean was born he did the same, although his peak of crying was near the middle of month 1 and now he’s almost 3 months and he rarely ever cries unless he’s hungry, needs changing, or wants to be held. During his peak he would get extremely upset and cry every night around 10pm or 11pm and it would go non-stop for at least 2 hours, some times he wouldn’t settle down until the early morning hours. I would change him, try to feed him, burp him, rub his back, rub his belly, bicycle his legs, talk to him softly, walk with him, sing to him, try holding him in different positions, wrapping him up tight, or stripping him down. We tried everything but he would continue to cry and then all the sudden he would stop eat and fall to sleep like nothing happened. I was fairly certain that it was gas. Since I’m so big on advocating for breastfeeding I heading to my support groups because I was now certain his problem was possibly an intolerance to something in my diet. I asked some of the others mothers advice and was told to try an elimination diet and that I may have to cut out dairy. I decided to wait to out and sure enough after a couple weeks he was fine and has been ever since.

Being a parent to 2 small children I can completely get behind this and I think it’s an amazing thing to educate new parents. As parents we are constantly second guessing, getting different advice from everyone around us, and trying to find our own way. Babies don’t come with instruction manuals and sometimes it would be nice if someone prepared you and let you know that it’s normal and this to shall pass. When your child is crying our immediate response is to find the source of the problem, but when nothing works it can be very frustrating and set tensions on high. It can make you feel like maybe you aren’t good enough as a parent, maybe your doing something wrong, or maybe their is something wrong with your child. I wish I had received this in my package from the hospital when I gave birth. It wouldn’t have necessarily helped with the frustration at the time but it would have stopped me from jumping to conclusions and freaking out so much. The more you know what to expect the easier it is, education is key to everything.

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