The parenting journey includes some bumpy spots, and one of the first new parents may encounter is the period of PURPLE crying.
This frustrating cycle of crying is temporary and will come to an end. It’s important for all infant caregivers to be aware of this type of crying and have some strategies to manage their own emotions and reactions to it.
Purple is an important color in Louisiana for LSU Tiger fans, but in this case, PURPLE is an acronym for the period that lasts from about two weeks to five months of age:
- Peak of Crying – Crying peaks during the second month, decreases after that
- Unexpected – Crying comes and goes unexpectedly, for no apparent reason
- Resists Soothing – Crying continues despite all soothing efforts by caregivers
- Pain-like-Face – Infant looks 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 – Crying occurs more in the late afternoon and evening
Normal Part of Infant Development
Infant crying is normal, and some healthy babies may cry as much as five hours per day. All infants experience the PURPLE period of crying, just varying degrees of intensity and duration.
Crying that resists soothing can be incredibly frustrating for the caregiver. When your baby cannot be calmed no matter what you do, their crying can wear down your reserves. Remember that baby is not crying just to get at you. You are not a bad caregiver or parent, the crying is not your fault, and your baby is not bad or broken.
Don’t Shake – Strategies to Cope
Injury from frustrated caregivers losing control is the one real risk factor from the PURPLE period of crying. Shaking a baby is very dangerous; in many cases it can cause brain damage, blindness, cerebral palsy and even death.
If the crying becomes too frustrating, here are some things to try:
- Put your infant in a safe place, walk away and take a break for five to 10 minutes.
- Find some quiet and catch your breath.
- Call a partner, grandparent, babysitter or friend for support.
Make sure that anyone watching your baby knows about the period of PURPLE crying if you leave them with a sitter, grandparent or other caregivers.
Rule Out Illness
Call your baby’s doctor if you’re worried about the crying. Babies who are sick are likely to cry more, so it’s important that babies be checked by their provider.