Period of PURPLE Crying: Understanding Infant Crying

posted by nicole

There is now an infant developmental phase referred to as the Period of PURPLE Crying.  This is news to me, and I really wish this term was around when my daughter was an infant.

Infant Crying

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In the hospital, my husband and I were inundated with pamphlets on Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention. As we held our precious newborn close to us and fawned over her every feature, John turned to me and asked, “How could anyone ever shake a baby?” I shrugged my shoulders and replied, “I just don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Fast forward to two weeks home with our daughter.  The initial baby bliss was over.  Don’t get me wrong, we still were in love with our daughter, but we were really feeling the reality of being first time parents.  Every night, shortly after John got home from work,  like clockwork our daughter’s CRYING would begin.  Crying. Crying. Crying. Crying.  It would start each night at about the same time and it would last for hours.   She would cry and cry and her little face would scrunch up  like she was in pain.  We would hold her, rock her, sing to her, put her in the swing,  and feed her but nothing soothed her.  It was awful.  Honestly, the hours of crying became like nails on a chalkboard. With the hours of crying, and guilt I felt not for not being able to soothe my baby, I felt myself unraveling. I felt like I was failing at my job as mom already.

I  scoured the Internet for answers but there weren’t any.  I did find fellow moms posting questions about the same type of crying, but no real answers. We went to the pediatrician and asked about it also. Was it colic? Was it gas? Was it reflux? Why was she crying so much?  But she reassured us our daughter was was perfectly healthy and thriving. Infants are just fussy she told us.

One night, about a week or so into this horrible routine, after hours of crying, I finally understood.  This is why they told us over and over never to shake the baby.  It was moments like this, when parents are ridiculously sleep deprived and desperate for the crying to stop, that they can shake a baby.  Thanks goodness, I had a great support system that helped me cope and it never got to that point, but I now understood how it could happen. And even that made me feel awful.

A year later, there is now a name for what we were experiencing.  It’s called the Period of PURPLE Crying, PURPLE being an acronym for Peak of Crying, Unexpected, Resists Soothing, Pain-like Face, Long-lasting, and Evening.  Have you ever heard of it? I know I hadn’t until now.  Coined by a developmental pediatrician, it refers to a period of excessive crying infants go through between the ages of 2 weeks to 3-4 months. And, it  is a totally NORMAL part of infant development!  Apparently, there is now even a  “Purple Program” that  helps educate new parents about this crying time with the intention of educating about the dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

I wish this phase had been given a name when I was a new mom.  I wouldn’t have been able to comfort my daughter any differently, but I think it would have given me some peace of mind knowing that I was experiencing  a normal part of infant development. And maybe I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself either.

Are you experiencing a period of PURPLE crying with your infant?  How are you handling it?

Posted in Babies, Mom Stuff, Mommy Tips, Parenting Hell. Tagged , , , .

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