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 why they are crying, 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.
“The Period of PURPLE Crying”
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 The Period of Purple Crying, some more excessively than others, but it is normal and expected for all babies.
Your baby will not cry like this forever
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.
The baby is not doing this on purpose
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.
Keep your baby safe and take a break
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**
***These are not reporting hotlines. These are free, confidential services 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, The period of Purple Crying will be over and your happy, gurgling baby will be back.
About the Author
Molly Horn is the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator at Alliance For Children, Tarrant County’s children’s advocacy center.
Molly graduated from UTA with a Bachelor’s in Social Work, and enjoys using both her social work knowledge and her advertising experience to bring healing to victims of child abuse. She has an 8-year-old daughter and two lazy cats who keep her life full.