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The Period of Purple Crying

Submitted by on Tuesday, 23 September 200818 Comments
We can learn something from the color purple

We can learn something from the color purple

I’ve seen a lot of posts on other blogs lately about crying babies and they inspired me to write this article, especially because our daughter, who I will call Sweet Cheeks, has also been crying more lately (she’s two months old now).

It is important for parents to realize that it is absolutely normal for babies to go through a period of increased crying.  There is even a name for it.  It is called the Period of Purple Crying.  Once parents know that the Period of Purple Crying exists, it helps them to deal with it a lot better.  The Period of Purple Crying also helps parents to understand that it is okay for your baby to cry, and an inability to calm your baby doesn’t make you a bad parent.  It also doesn’t mean that your child is abnormal or unhealthy.

Was the guy who came up with the idea of the Period of Purple Crying a fan of the colour purple, or Whoopi Goldberg?  Maybe.  But there is a reason why it is called “Purple Crying.”  It is PURPLE because:

There is a PEAK to the crying.  The baby cries more and more each week, until it reaches a peak at around 2 months of age, and then it decreases over the following months.

The crying is UNEXPECTED.  You don’t know when or where it will start or stop.

The child tends to RESIST soothing.  No matter what you do, the baby doesn’t stop crying.

The child may have a PAIN-LIKE face while crying.  The baby may look like it is in pain, although it is not.

The crying may be very LONG LASTING.  It can last as much as five hours a day or more (oh god!).

The crying increases in the EVENING or late afternoon.

Put it all together and what do you got?  PURPLE crying.

This crying is no game

This crying is no game

It is important that parents understand this period of crying and that it is completely normal.  Knowing this really helps parents to deal with the frustration that they feel when they are unable to calm their baby.  Parents need to know that it is okay to be frustrated, as long as they deal with the frustration in an appropriate way.

The best ways to deal with the frustration are:

1.  Use techniques to try and stay calm while calming the baby.  I have some ideas about how to do this in an article I wrote here.

2.  Take a break by handing the baby over to your spouse.

3.  If your spouse or no one else is available, place the baby in a safe place and take a 5 or 10 minute break.  Do something relaxing during this time that will help relieve your frustration, then go back to your baby.  Know that it is okay to leave your baby in a safe place while crying for a few minutes.  This is better than carrying your baby while you are very frustrated.

It is important that parents also make sure that anyone who is looking after their baby knows and understands the Period of Purple Crying and how to deal with it.  The last thing that you want is a caregiver that shakes your baby out of frustration.

Join the Jam and let us know what you do to deal with Purple Crying!


The Period of Purple Crying is an evidence-based Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention program put forward by National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.  It is based on research conducted by Ronald G. Barr and other scientists worldwide on normal infant crying patterns.  Please visit this link if you are interested in more information on the Period of Purple Crying.


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