What is PURPLE Crying?

That sweet, exhausting, beautiful time in your life when you’ve just brought home your newborn baby is so special. 

But it’s challenging too. Usually, this is the part where I talk about how tough newborn sleep is. 

Not today, friends. Today I want to talk about PURPLE crying. 

When I was becoming certified as a Child Sleep Consultant, I learned about PURPLE crying for the first time and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t come across it before. I read the prenatal books! I went to prenatal classes! Why didn’t anyone tell me?!

The reason I felt this way is that I’m certain we experienced a period of PURPLE crying with my older son when he was a few weeks old. It was so hard. Knowing what was happening would have made it drastically easier. 

That’s why it’s important to spread the word about PURPLE crying. It’s also important because, statistically, it increases the risk of a baby experiencing shaken baby syndrome. 

So, what is it? 

First, I swear I’m not shouting the word purple at you over and over again. It’s an acronym. 

P – peak of crying

U – unexpected

R – resists soothing

P – pain-like face

L – long-lasting

E – evening

Your baby experiences an increase in the amount of time they cry (peak of crying) and it seems to be for no reason at all (unexpected). They are fed, changed, soothed, and show no signs of being ill or in pain. But suddenly there are all of these tears and the things you normally do to soothe your little one aren’t working (resists soothing). It seems like something is bothering them (pain-like face) and they remain in this state sometimes for hours (long-lasting). You notice that this is happening in the evening, sometimes even in the late afternoon (evening). 

Sounds fun, right? Here’s the thing. If you know what is happening, that it is normal, and is occurring as part of your baby’s development, all of the stress wondering what you are doing wrong and why you can’t soothe your baby goes away. 

What can you do?

If your newborn is between 2 weeks and 3 to 4 months of age and what I just described sounds like your life right now, then you are probably going through a period of PURPLE crying with your little one. 

The good news is that there is nothing wrong with your baby and you are not doing anything wrong. 

Read that last sentence again. Because I know from experience if your child is suffering from PURPLE crying it definitely doesn’t feel like you’re crushing this whole parenting thing. 

But we’ve established that your little one is okay and there is nothing you can do to soothe them during these periods. Once you know that they’re not hungry, don’t need to be changed, and soothing isn’t working, you do your best to get to the end of the crying. Take deep breaths. Listen to music. If you live with a partner, take turns going for walks or doing something else to give yourself a break. 

And keep reminding yourself that this will pass. The crying usually begins to lessen by about 6 to 8 weeks of age. And by 3 to 4 months, your little one will be past it. 

If you want to learn even more about PURPLE crying, http://www.purplecrying.info is a great source of articles and information. 

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Rachel Ross

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