Purple Crying

Tip of the Day: The Period of PURPLE Crying
In my last tip sheet I reviewed how crying in new babies can elicit an anger response in inexperienced parents and caregivers that can potentially lead to child abuse resulting in severe injury to the baby that may result in permanent disability and/or death. There is currently a lot of research around the diagnosis of unexplained crying in small infants, and the new conventional wisdom is that crying due to “colic” is not a medical diagnosis that can be treated with formula changes, gas drops or other medications, but rather a devel-opmental phase. A new phrase has been coined called “The Period of PURPLE Crying”. http://purplecrying.info/
PURPLE is an acronym that means:
P—Peak of Crying – the baby cries more each week peaking at 2 months of age and dissipating between 3-5 months of age.
U – Unexpected – the crying can come and go and it is not related to eating or sleeping or diaper changes.
R – Resists Soothing – the baby continues to cry no matter what you do to try and soothe the symptoms.
P – Pain-like face – the baby cries as if she is in pain, even when there is no particular source.
L – Long lasting – the crying can last up to five hours or more per day.
E – Evening – the baby may cry more in the late afternoon or evening.
Here are some techniques to soothe a crying baby:
Swaddling can soothe even the fussiest of babies. This action helps the baby to feel secure and simulates the warmth and tightness of being in the womb.
Breastfeeding or Pacifier Use
Breastfed babies can be nursed when fussy to provide them with comfort. Nursing releases hormones in the mother and baby that help both to calm down, providing a quiet time to bond. Breastfed babies can be nursed even if they are not hungry, without fear of overfeeding. Often, the act of suckling in the comfort of a parent’s arms will help the infant to quickly fall asleep.
Infant Massage
Infant massage can provide babies with a soothing bonding experience with caregivers, and also helps to relieve any discomfort or gas that the baby is experiencing.
Gas Relief
Fussiness is often caused by a difficulty passing gas. Parents can provide their baby with gas relief by laying him on his back and gently moving his legs as though riding a bicycle.
Soothing Sounds
Infants are used to many soothing sounds while in the womb. Parents can try to simulate these sounds by making quiet “shh” or “whoosh” sounds repeatedly to the baby. Some babies are also comforted by hearing the voice of their mother or listening to soft singing.
Call a Friend or Relative
All parents need support, and sometimes taking care of an infant is just plain exhausting. Ask parents to keep a list of folks handy they can call for support. Isolation is dangerous for both infants and parents. Oftentimes there are local parenting support groups run by non-profit organizations that meet in a community center or library.
Michelle Terry, MD
Ask Dr. Terry
February 24. 2012
All Kids are Our Kids

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