Purple cryingI came across this term purple crying quite recently and it made me go, "What the?!" As a midwife and baby whisperer of 26 years I've heard a lot of crying in my time. Crying is something that babies do to communicate with us. It's their way of telling us what is wrong and what they need.
New parents often struggle with the crying of a new baby. They feel that babies shouldn't cry and they try anything to stop it. As I'm writing this now I'm in a parents house and their young baby is has been doing just this, crying. It's the end of a long day and babies are like us, they get overwhelmed and 'over it'.
So where did this term purple crying come from?It was developed by Dr Ronald Barr MCDM and FRCPC (Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians Canada), as a method of normalising the increased crying that occurs in babies aged 2-6 weeks of age.
It is also designed to reduce shaken baby syndrome by helping us understand that this is normal behaviour. Shaken Baby Syndrome is the number one cause of death in infants in the US (30 percent of deaths) and upwards of 80 percent of infants who survive suffer permanent life-long brain abnormalities.
So what does the acronym PURPLE stand for?P: Peak of crying – Your baby may cry more each week; the most at two months, then less at three to four months.
U: Unexpected – Crying can come and go and you don’t know why.
R: Resists soothing – Your baby may not stop crying no matter what you try to do.
P: Pain-like face – A crying baby may look like they are in pain, even when they are not.
L: Long-lasting – Crying can last a much as five hours a day, or more.
E: Evening – Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and/or evening.
The Period of PURPLE Crying is based on almost 50 years of early infant development and crying research by an international cast of scientist and paediatricians. Similar studies were done on non-mammalian (breastfeeding) species, like chimpanzees, and found that their babies have a similar crying curve. Crying is a normal part of child development.
You can read more on purple crying at this link https://purplecrying.info but It's important though to make sure there really isn't something wrong with the baby before you decide it's PURPLE crying. It's worth getting your GP or Early Childhood Nurse to check baby over.
So what can you do to help your baby?
- Make sure they have regular day naps and can self-settle, this reduces stress and prevents them getting overtired. I have a guide to this is in my ebook: Help I'm a new mum & I don't know what to do. I also have a blog on what to do if your baby is overtired.
- Regular feeds to help promote a good day and night routine.
- Make sure they are not hungry and they are gaining weight appropriately. Breastfeeding doesn't always work as well or as easy as you may think. Plot your baby's measurements on the centile chart and keep an eye on their progress.
- Holding, rocking and comforting your baby.
- Wrapping/swaddling can be helpful for a young baby. Feeling secure reduces stress and so reduces crying.
- Baby massage can really soothe and reduces that stress hormone, cortisol.
- A warm soothing bath can really help a crying baby at any time of the day or night.
- Lazy lion/tiger in the tree is a really great baby yoga position that reduces stress. I demonstrate this simple technique during this youtube video.
- And if and when you've run out of ideas, pass your crying baby onto another pair of arms to soothe. We can transmit our stress to our baby without realising it. Time apart can calm our frazzled nerves down and help us regroup to manage the next session of PURPLE crying.
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