The sound of a crying baby is something no parent wants to hear. But in the first months of a child's development it is a normal and often unexplainable experience. Dr. Rolly Sullivan from West Virginia University's School of Medicine explains the period is known as "PURPLE crying."
In the first six months of a baby's development they cry for many reasons. Yet between the age of two weeks and five months there is often a period of unexplainable crying that parents are unable to sooth. "So the characteristics that go with this time period are written in the world Purple," said Dr. Renee Saggio with WVU's Department of Pediatrics. "P stands for (the fact) that it has a certain period," according to Dr. Saggio. "So it's nice that it has a limited time but it peak peaks period is at two months of age it starts from two weeks and goes until about three to five months."
U is that it is unexpected; you never know when it's going to happen. R is that it's resistant to soothing, normal soothing things that we would do with babies. The next P is they have a pain like face, they look like they are miserable and are in terrible pain. L is that it can last a long time, you never know exactly it may be an hour it may be even longer and it varies from baby to baby and moment to moment. And E is that it happens in the evening most of the time.
Frustrated parents sometimes react to the unexplainable crying by shaking their baby. The number of cases of shaken baby syndrome or child abuse syndrome and abusive head trauma increased from 2005 to 2012. Parents are more likely to shake their baby if the child is ill or has a chronic illness, if the family is financially stressed, or if the child is one of a multiple birth such as twins or triplets. "It's very stressful, and it's very hard on parents," said Dr. Saggio.
She advises parents that the crying itself will not hurt the baby it's just more frustrating for adults and so the best thing parents can do is try all the things they normally would. "Make sure they're fed and they're clean and they're not ill and you can do some of the basic soothing techniques," said Dr. Saggio.
Education can decrease the risk of hurting a baby during the purple crying period. make sure anyone spending time with your child knows the dangers.