An infant’s method of communication is crying. Whether to tell us they are hungry, dirty, lonely, in pain, or something else, they cry. As caring adults, our job is to figure out what those cries mean and assist our child. By reacting in a proactive way, not only does this soothe them, but we teach them that they are safe, that someone cares for them and is there to help.
But what if they don’t stop? What if they keep crying, after you have tried everything to soothe them? For a certain stage of infancy, some babies’ cries seem endless and for no reason, and nothing you do seems helpful. Often called colic, many physicians and researchers are now recognizing this period of infancy as a distinct phase that all babies go through to some extent. Dubbed “The Period of PURPLE Crying”, this phase, usually from ages 2 weeks to 3-4 months, is most often associated with inconsolable crying. PURPLE stands for Peak of Crying, Unexpected, Resists Soothing, Pain-like Face, Long Lasting, Evening.
The first thing to remember if your baby is crying without a noticeable cause during this timeframe, is that this is a normal stage of development. All babies go through it, some more excessively than others, but it is normal and expected for all babies.
Second, it is called The Period of PURPLE Crying because it has a beginning and an end. Your baby will not cry like this forever, there will be an end. You may feel hopeless after trying everything, but this will pass. As you would with any new baby, have your child examined by a pediatrician to rule out any illness. If your baby gets a clean bill of health, and all their needs are met (hungry, tired, dirty, lonely), then a great next step would be to educate yourself on The Period of PURPLE Crying.
Third, remember that while this is normal, it is extremely stressful for parents and your feelings of frustration are normal. If you find yourself reaching a point that you can’t take the crying, put your baby in a safe place like their crib or pack’n’play, and step away for a moment. Remember that the baby is not doing this on purpose, and that it will have an end. Your baby will outgrow this phase and will be the happy baby you have hoped for. Take some deep breaths and allow yourself to take a mental break for a few minutes. You can do this and your baby will outgrow this period. Stay strong.
Lastly, please remember to never shake a baby. In those moments where your baby is screaming endlessly, you may feel like you would do anything to get the crying to stop. In those moments, STOP. Walk away. Keep your baby safe and take a break. Call a friend or one of these hotlines for support:
Parent Stress Line: 1-800-632-8188
National Parent Helpline: 1-855-4-A-PARENT (1-855-427-2736)
DFPS HELPLINE: 1-800-989-6884**
**This is not the reporting hotline. This is a free, confidential service just for parents to get help when they are in need.
Your baby depends on you for their safety, and you can make it through this. Remember the acronym PURPLE, and remember that, before you know it, your happy, gurgling baby will be back.