Your baby is going to cry, some days more than others, and it can become increasingly frustrating if you do not know why. Crying is the only form of communication infants have and they use crying to express a range of emotions. Figuring out potential reasons why your baby is upset can help you decide which soothing techniques to try. There are many things that can help calm a crying baby however, there will be developmental times where no matter what you try, your baby will be inconsolable. These times are the most challenging and are classified as the PURPLE crying period.
Dr. Ronald Barr, a developmental pediatrician, came up with the phrase the Period of PURPLE Crying. The period of PURPLE crying was something I had not been aware of until I began my sleep coaching journey. I was surprised when an article written by Marilyn Barr, Founder/Former Executive Director, NCSBS, described PURPLE crying as a normal part of an infant's development! I was aware that babies often times have intense crying periods, but I did not know they can be predictable and indicative of developmental changes to come. Feelings of frustration would likely be less intense if parents knew a time would come when their baby will be inconsolable, that it is completely normal, and this period will end. These periods of PURPLE crying can be very intense and worrisome, especially if you do not fully understand what is happening or why. The acronym PURPLE stands for:
P- peak of crying
R- resists soothing
P- pain-like face
L- long lasting
In other words, this period will come unexpectedly, be very intense to where you may think they are in pain, will typically last for a while in the evenings, and your baby will be resistant to soothing. It tends to begin at about two weeks of age and continues until about three to four months of age. This is a completely normal phase of development and does not mean you are doing something wrong. It also does not mean there is something wrong with your baby.
The National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome created a list of practical things to try to calm your crying baby during these moments. It is important to remember that while many of these suggestions will work most of the time, nothing will work all of the time. When you begin to become very frustrated with a baby's crying, it is time to set your baby in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes. This safe place can be in a baby-proofed room, a play pen, or pack-and-play for example. Never leave your baby unattended in any infant devices, high-chairs, or raised surfaces such as your bed or the sofa. Once you have taken a moment to calm down, return to your child and try soothing again. Go through the list below to find a way to calm your baby's crying.
Ten Ways to Soothe your Infant:
1. Feed your baby. Hunger is the main reason a baby will cry.
2. Burp your baby. Babies do not have a natural ability to get rid of air built up in their stomach.
3. Give your baby a lukewarm bath. A great soothing technique but remember to never leave your baby unattended.
4. Massage your baby. A gentle massage on a baby’s back, arms or legs can be very comforting.
5. Make eye contact with your baby and smile. Eye-to-eye contact with your baby when they are crying can distract and comfort them.
6. Kiss your baby. This can help lessen the tension during fierce crying episodes.
7. Sing Softly. Lullabies were created because of their effectiveness at calming crying babies.
8. Hum in a low tone against your baby’s head. Men usually do this soothing feature best.
9. Run a Vacuum Cleaner. The noise from a vacuum is referred to as white noise which is any sound that produces a loud, neutral, masking sound. Babies find these noises hypnotizing.
10. Take your baby for a ride in the car. The vibrations from a car have a sleep-inducing effect on babies. Always make sure your baby is secure in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat.
If you are currently experiencing this period of PURPLE crying and would like additional help and resources, please contact me for your FREE 15-minute consultation. We can discuss your concerns and frustrations and create a plan of action for overcoming this challenging time. You do not have to face this alone; I am here to help.
Also available 24/7 is the toll-free Child Help number. You can call and talk to a professionally trained counselor, get help on dealing with your infants crying, as well as help with other development topics which you may find frustrating.
CHILD HELP HOTLINE: 1-800-4-A-CHILD
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