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The Purple Crying Period!

Say what!!?? Purple crying? Does the mean your baby will turn purple when crying?


Babies cry and sometimes they cry a lot! Purple crying is an acronym used to describe a period of time when your baby continues to cry even though they have been fed, changed and are being soothed.

Dr. Ronald Barr, an American developmental pediatrician coined this finite period. Dr. Barr has done more studies on infant crying than anyone in the world!

This period can start when your baby is around 2 weeks old and generally ends when they reach 3 to 4 months of age. Almost like clockwork, your baby can go from being extremely happy to being inconsolable for no apparent reason. Some parents say that it looks like their baby is actually in pain and they just can't figure it out. They start questions themselves and asking if they are doing something wrong.

Dr. Barr saw this frustration and concern from parents and developed an acronym to share his knowledge about this period of crying. Each letter stands for an aspect of the crying and what you can expect during this time.

P - peek of crying

U - unexpected

R - resists soothing

P - pain like face

L - long lasting

E - evening

Peek of crying: Your baby may cry each more each week starting around 2 months of age. The crying will lessen as they getting closer to 3-4 months of age.

Unexpected: Crying can come and go and you have absolutely no idea why.

Resists Soothing: Your baby may keep crying no matter what soothing techniques you try.

Pain Like Face: Your baby may look like they are in pain but they are actually not.

Long Lasting: Crying can last as long as 5 hours a day or more.

Evening: Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon or the evening.

PERIOD: The word PERIOD means the crying has a beginning and and end.

Many people mistake PURPLE crying for Colic so it is important to know the difference. To be classified as a PURPLE crying, the crying will last up to 5 hours each day, but it always end. Colic on the other hand is characterized by your baby crying for 3 or more hours each day, 3 or more days out of each week and for 3 weeks or longer.

Unexplained, prolonged crying is the most common trigger for shaking a baby syndrome, so it’s important to know what to expect and to seek support if you are experiencing this with your baby.

It's ok to place your baby down in a safe place if you are feeling overwhelmed. Take time out for yourself, and reach out for support from family and friends.

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome has developed a wonderful video to help explain the Purple Crying Period.

The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) has made a helpful guide to help parents understand and cope with your baby's crying.

Some comforting words: Purple crying is a normal developmental phase some babies go through and the good news is that this unexplained crying will not last forever! As always, seek help from a medical professional if you feel that something is not right with your baby's health.

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