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Baby Medical Q&A, Issue #078 Period of PURPLE crying
April 01, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Baby Medical Q&A News.

This month's ezine looks at the Period Of PURPLE crying.

All babies cry and there is a period of time in the first few months when babies cry more - it has been called the fussy period. When there is a lot of crying, it has been called infantile colic or excessive crying of infancy. All parents will have experienced a crying baby to a degree but like all things, some babies will cry a little bit and some babies will cry a lot.

What I like about the concept of the period of PURPLE crying is that is describes this fussy period very well and can reassure parents that they are doing the right thing. Also remember that it is a "period" so that means it will stop.

The Period of PURPLE crying

The letters of the word PURPLE just describe what is happening, so

  • P - there is an increase in crying every week from 2 weeks of age until a Peak at 2 months of age then there is a gradual decrease
  • U - the crying is Unexpected - so is unpredictable and unexplained by what is going on
  • R - the crying Resists soothing so sometimes there is nothing you can do to soothe your baby
  • P - your baby looks in Pain because he/she grimaces and/or pulls up his/her legs. However, we know from our studies of babies that they are not in serious pain (although they may be uncomfortable)
  • L - the periods of crying can be Long even up to 5 hours or more at a time!
  • E - the crying often occurs in the Evening

As you can see, it does describe the crying babies have.

As a parent, do not feel you have failed if:

  • your baby has crying spells that last a long time
  • your baby has crying spells and you can't settle him/her

Crying is normal in babies and is not a reflection of your parenting.

Be reassured that crying in the first few months of life is not associated with long term emotional or developmental problems.

Soothing Strategies

Remember that:

  • some soothing strategies will work some of the time and nothing works all the time and sometimes nothing will work at all
  • soothing strategies can be used to prevent crying so use them even when your baby is not crying to prevent him/her crying

Soothing strategies involve:

  • change of position
  • repetition and rhythm - lullabies and calm gentle talking
  • white noise
  • human contact with closeness and a variety of sensation such as sight, sound and smell

Studies have shown that babies who are carried (eg, in a sling) may have less unsettled periods than those who are not. If you think about it, carrying your baby involves most of the soothing strategies outlined above.

What parents can do for their crying baby

  • stay calm first and foremost
  • go through the normal strategy for a crying baby - read more here
  • try some of the "colic" soothing strategies - click here
  • if you feel stressed, put your baby in his/her crib and walk away until you feel calm again

You can read more about the period of PURPLE crying on this website - click here

Please feel free to share this ezine with family and friends.

Till next time,

Dr Maud

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