April 6, 2018

The PURPLE Period

Having a baby can be an extremely exciting time. The addition of a new member to the family can also be a bit stressful to adjust to.

Do you ever have times when your newborn has long bouts of crying? Do you feel like you have exhausted all measures to try and calm your baby but nothing seems to work? Believe it or not, this period of crying is a completely normal behavior if your baby is between the ages of 2 weeks and 4 months old. This time is referred to as the Period of PURPLE Crying.

The Period of PURPLE Crying refers to the crying pattern of normal, healthy infants that can cause stress and frustration for caregivers. Here’s what it stands for:

Peak pattern: Crying peaks around two months, decreasing after that

Unpredictable: Crying can come and go unexpectedly, with no apparent reason

Resistant to soothing: Crying continues despite soothing efforts of caregivers

Pain-like face: Healthy, crying infants can look like they are in pain, though they may not be

Long bouts: Crying can go on for about 30 to 40 minutes and sometimes longer

Evening crying: Crying occurs more in the afternoon and evening

Crying can become frustrating and can cause a variety of feelings …

• When your baby cries more than expected

• If it feels harder than you anticipated

• Your baby won’t stop crying no matter what you try

• You feel like you are a bad parent or that you are doing something wrong

• You are tired and feel guilty that you cannot take care of your baby

• You feel like a failure

What do you do if your baby is going through the PURPLE crying phase? Here are a few important steps you can take when the crying is frustrating:

1. Carry, comfort, walk and talk with your baby. Speak or sing in a low, soothing voice as you carry your child while walking around. Breathe deeply as you do this to help release some of the tension you may be feeling. When your baby is crying, try all you can to comfort him or her. Check to see if your baby is hungry, tired or needs changing. Give your baby a warm bath. Hold your baby close to you with skin-to-skin contact. You will be able to stop the crying sometimes, but not always.

2. If it is too frustrating, it is OK to walk away. If you find yourself becoming frustrated or feeling overwhelmed, put your baby in a safe place, walk away and take a few minutes to calm yourself. Then go back and check on your baby.

3. Never shake or hurt a baby.

Feeling angry or upset is okay. It is what you do with your anger that is important. Take a break from the crying and take care of yourself too.

For more information on local resources to help you cope with the period of PURPLE crying, call the New Parent Support Program at 623-856-3417.

Courtesy of 56th Medical Support Squadron and the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome,

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