The Period Of Purple Crying

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and we want to highlight a program Memorial has implemented to educate new parents about why their babies cry. Andrea Mueller of Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit appeared on KIT 1280 on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 to talk about the Period of Purple Crying.

The Period of Purple Crying is a way to help parents understand this time in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development. The Period of Purple Crying begins at about 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months of age. The letters in the word Purple have a meaning:

P is for Peak – Your baby may cry more in the second month

U is for Unexpected – The crying may come and go and you won’t know why

R is for Resists Soothing – Your baby may not stop crying, no matter what you try

P is for Pain-like Face – A crying baby may look like he or she is in pain

L is for Long Lasting – Crying can last as much as five hours

E is for Evening – Your baby may cry more in the early evening or at night

The key point is that this crying is a normal part of a baby’s development. Some babies cry more than others, but this is normal for all mammals. Scientists have found that all breast-feeding animals have a similar developmental stage of crying in the first months of life as humans do.

How is Memorial educating new parents about this?

Parents need to understand that there is nothing “specific” about crying. They can cry for many reasons.


Memorial’s childbirth education classes have been working to educate new moms about this for several years. Memorial also began implementing the Period of Purple Crying program in the NICU last fall and in the Family Birthplace in January. Every family receives a copy of a DVD and booklet about the Period of Purple Crying.

This is an evidence-based program. Every family has to watch the DVD in the Family Birthplace with a nurse standing by to ask questions.

How should you soothe your baby?

It’s important to recognize that some things work some of the time, but nothing works all of the time. Babies do not have an on-off switch for crying. Some things can help:

  • Carry your baby in a sling
  • Take baby for a car ride
  • Rock baby back and forth
  • Run a vacuum cleaner or create some other form of white noise – a fan, running water
  • Sing songs or play music
  • Give your baby a bath
  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Pacifier

What should you avoid?

Getting frustrated. The worst thing that can happen is that a parent or caregiver gets so frustrated with the crying, or their lack of success in soothing their baby, that they shake or otherwise hurt the baby.

Last year, there were five infants in Yakima County that were “shaken baby” sufferers. One infant died. This is devastating, and it is avoidable by educating parents about how to soothe their crying infants.

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