If you have children, you know that crying is what babies do best. They cry when they are hungry, they cry when they are too cold or too hot, they cry when they need a diaper change, and they even cry when they are tired! God designed our babies to cry when they are in need. Crying is a useful tool to help parents know when their baby is in need. However, sometimes babies cry when they don’t need anything and aren’t even in any pain. This kind of crying can be so frustrating and very hard for parents to deal with.
The term “colic” was thrown around quite often until Dr. Ronald Barr developed the concept of the Period of PURPLE Crying. The term “colic” implied that babies had a “problem” or a “condition” when actually, normal and completely healthy babies cry…a lot. It’s part of their development that can begin as early as 2 weeks of age and continue on up to 3-4 months of age. Some babies don’t cry much during this time, but some cry excessively. It sometimes seems to parents that their child is in need or is in pain. If you have done all that you can to comfort your baby (i.e. ensuring he/she has a clean diaper, not too hot or too cold, belly is full, etc.), and your baby is still crying inconsolably (it can even last for hours), there is no need to worry!
The Period of PURPLE Crying sounds as though it received its name from the color that babies sometimes appear when they cry for long periods of time (and it even crossed my mind that it’s the color parents may appear when they are at their wit’s end!). The term “PURPLE Crying” actually was developed from an acrostic to remind parents of the stages of this trying time in parenthood:
P: Peak of crying – Your baby may cry more each week; the most at two months, then less at three to four months.
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 to do.
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 a much as five hours a day, or more.
E: Evening – Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and/or evening.
When your baby is crying inconsolably, you can try to take measures to comfort them, but if it gets to be too much and you feel your nerves are wearing thin, lay your baby safely in his or her crib and walk away to give yourself a break. This is a good thing to do many times to just take a step away for a few minutes and regain your composure. Many times, loving, well-meaning parents have become so overwhelmed with frustration during a bout of crying from their baby that they shake their baby. Shaking a baby is extremely dangerous… [then you can insert whatever consequences happen from this because I couldn’t keep reading all the stuff online…]
If you are currently caring for an infant, keep the acrostic above in mind. Inform other parents of infants of the Period of PURPLE Crying, as well. Although it is very frustrating and trying time, this time will end and it does not imply that you are not caring for your child properly. It is just a developmental stage that all babies must go through. Remember to take breaks when you need to by either laying the baby in his or her crib or even calling family or close friends to watch your baby for a short time. Don’t allow yourself to get to a point where you are overwhelmed and never shake your baby.