Dealing with PURPLE Crying

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How to Cope When Your Baby’s Crying Just Won’t Stop.

All babies cry for lots of reasons. The usual culprits are that she’s hungry, tired, in pain, over-stimulated, too hot, too cold, or needing to release stress or tension.

Sometimes babies cry for seemingly no reason at all, which can be very upsetting for parents. Starting at about two weeks old, some babies enter a period of what’s called PURPLE crying. Purple is not a color in this case, but an anagram for the following:

Peak pattern — crying peaks at two months of age, then decreases
Unpredictable timing of prolonged crying
Resistance to soothing — the baby may keep crying for long periods, now matter what you do
Pain-like look on the baby’s face
Long crying bouts that can go on for up to four hours
Evening and late-afternoon crying

These crying spells are frustrating for sure, and may leave you feeling incompetent and hopeless. Remember that crying is normal — even a lot of it. Crying helps your baby develop, and is not necessarily a sign that she’s unhappy. Crying itself can’t hurt your baby, but sadly, frustrated parents can. Shaken Baby Syndrome is more likely to happen during PURPLE crying, and can lead to permanent injury or even death.

When baby begins crying, you can try calming her by:

  • Feeding her
  • Changing her diaper if it’s wet or dirty
  • Checking her temperature
  • Gentle rocking, swinging, or walking around with her in a carrier
  • Reading or singing to her
  • Creating white noise in the room
  • Holding her in a different position, like face-down with her belly and face supported by your forearm and hand

If, after all that, your baby keeps crying, you could try putting her in her bed on her back and leaving her there for five to 10 minutes. Come back and repeat any or all of soothing techniques above. Talk to her doctor if you think there may be an actual problem. Talk to a friend if you need encouragement during this rough time.

Hours of crying will test anyone’s patience. If you’re feeling so angry and frustrated that you could hurt her, put her in her bed on her back and take a break until you’re feeling calmer.