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Period of Purple Crying

Period of Purple CryingThe first few months after your baby is born are a time of great adjustment for everyone. For new parents, the most stressful periods may be when your baby cries. When you’ve tried everything you can think of to soothe your child yet nothing seems to work, it can be very frustrating. You may begin to question your parenting skills or wonder if your child has colic.

Why do babies cry? Babies cry as a form of communicating with you. Crying is completely normal for healthy infants, even if it lasts for long periods of time. In fact, research has found that most babies go through a period early in their lives when their crying becomes very intense. This time is called the Period of Purple Crying.

Each letter in the word "purple" can help you remember the common characteristics of newborn babies crying:

Period of Purple Crying

P – Peak crying usually happens at two months old. It decreases at three to five months old. 

U – Unexpected crying can come and go without knowing why.

R – Resists soothing. Your baby may continue to cry despite soothing them. 

P – Pain-like face. It may look like your baby is in pain even when they aren't. 

L – Long-lasting crying might happen for five or more hours a day.

E– Evening or late afternoon is when many periods of crying often occur.

This period of intense crying can be stressful, but remember that it will come to an end. Under no circumstances should you shake your child. Shaking your baby can lead to shaken baby syndrome, which can cause many very serious health complications such as brain damage, organ damage or death. That’s why it’s important to develop your own coping and support plan.

Knowing what to expect can help you be prepared for this period.

Crying Baby

  • Crying increases at two weeks old.
  • Infants cry the most during their second month.
  • Babies can cry five of more hours a day.
  • After two months, crying will generally decrease each week.
  • Do not leave your baby with someone who is easily frustrated.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help.

Strategies for coping include handing your baby off to another trusted caregiver or going to another room while leaving the baby in their crib with the rails up for no longer than 15 minutes. Reach out to family if you need a little extra help, and talk to a health care provider if you are feeling overwhelmed.

For more information, ask your nurse to help you view a video on “The Period of Purple Crying” during your stay at Women’s Hospital. In this video, you can learn more about the characteristics of crying in healthy infants and more coping strategies.

Caring for Mom

  • Period of Purple Crying