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Parenting: Getting through the Purple Cry period

Purple Cry period
Posted at 7:17 AM, Jun 07, 2022

Nine months of preparing, planning, and waiting on baby to arrive.

Everyone one celebrates, but then leave and you are left along with a newborn who won't stop crying.

"We're already emotional, our hormones are raging, and we're exhausted," Dr. Lauren Bailey, pediatrician with Lourdes Physician Group, said. "The baby can feel our anxiety, the baby will realize this and cry even more."

Bailey said The Purple Cry period usually starts in week two and can go one for three or four months.

"It's a horrible time at this moment, but after a few months it really does get better," Bailey said.

The Purple Cry period used to be referred to as colic. It was the only way for some to explain the constant unexplained crying.

"It was a little bit more confusing to people because they thought their child was ill or there was something with them," Bailey said. "There wasn't...it's a normal development."

The phrase "Purple Cry Period" is used as a teaching tool for new parents.

It stands for:

P: peak of crying

U: unexpected, baby is fine one minute and crying the next

R: resist to soothing

P: pain. The baby may seem like they are in pain, but they are not

L: long-lasting, seems to go on forever

E: evening, the crying always seems to start in the evening hours

When the crying becomes unbearable, Bailey said there is nothing wrong with taking yourself out of the situation to gather your bearings.

"Grandma will always tell you to not let the baby cry, a baby is not going to die from crying," Bailey said. "It's much more dangerous for us to be overwhelmed and us frustrated to leave them be, give them a moment, us a moment, and then come back in and take care of them ."

Dr. Ann Marie Flannery, pediatric neurosurgeon with Our Lady of Lourdes Women's and Children's, said when baby comes to her it is usually because the frustrations of sleepless nights constant crying have gotten the best of the parent or caregiver.

"If we shake the baby and tell them to stop crying, stop crying, and then slam them down in a padded crib," Flannery said. "That can be enough to cause severe damage."

Flannery said, unlike adults, babies are still developing, making connections to the skull vulnerable.

"You and I have connections that are like cauliflower, they're kind of robust and very complex," Flannery explained. "Babies connections are thing and narrow, so even the force of shaking is enough to pull those apart and cause damage. When I see the child, it's because the damage has been done and I'm there to make sure no further damage takes place. I'm there to help them recover."

The biggest piece of advice both women can give is to step away, take a breather, and know that there is an end to the Purple Cry Period.