The period of PURPLE crying is a stage in your young baby’s life when they are impossible to sooth. They suffer from inconsolable bouts of crying, and there is nothing you can do! Comforting and soothing are essential for your baby, but they may not decrease the crying. It is a normal stage of development, and it will pass.
This is a phase in a young baby’s life that is normal, very frustrating, but the most important thing to remember is it will stop. This helps a great deal of parents, when they are in the middle of this period in their baby’s life, to know that it’s normal, other baby’s do it, and it will cease. Not all babies go through PURPLE crying, but if your baby does you need to find support as it can be a very emotional time for you. The characteristics are of a normal baby who suddenly starts to cry, and cry, and cry, and you feel helpless. You rule out are they hungry, do they need to be changed, are they uncomfortable, are they sick. A check up at the doctors to make sure they are in good health will help, because then you know you just need to be there for your baby.
The Letters in PURPLE stand for:
P is for peak of crying. Your baby may cry more each week, the most in month 2, then less in months 3-5.
U is for unexpected. Crying can come and go and you don’t know why.
R is for resists soothing. Your baby may not stop crying no matter what you try.
P is for pain-like face. Your baby may look like they are in pain, even when they are not.
L is for long lasting. Crying can last for several hours a day.
E is for evening. Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening.
It is loud, upsetting, and frightening. Your baby bursts into tears, and you cannot console them. This is a developmental phase that usually begins at about 2 weeks of age and can continue until they are about 3-5 months of age. It’s not happening because you’re a bad parent or because there’s something terribly wrong with your baby, but you do need support through this period.
There are some things you can do that may help reduce the crying, but they may not always work. You can try comforting your baby by holding them close to you, talking, singing, walking and rocking them. The rhythmic motion of their stroller, a car ride, or even dancing with your baby can help. A warm bath, skin-to-skin contact, or a massage can bring calmness. The rhythmic sound of your voice singing songs or telling stories, soothing music, or white noise can bring some relief.
It’s very important to remember that your child should not be left unattended during PURPLE crying, communication needs to continue. If you need a break from your baby, and rightfully so as the experience is exhausting on your patience and energy, you should get another family member or friend to take over for a while. Your negative energy transfers to the baby and exacerbates the situation. Ask your circle of adults to help you through this part of your baby’s life. Your baby needs to be comforted with a soothing voice and closeness. The baby may not stop crying, but the support of an adult giving love is crucial. A baby’s journey through PURPLE crying is scary and at times overwhelming.
I was out for brunch with friends and a woman sitting at another table instantly came over when she heard me talking about PURPLE crying. Myself and the other women at the table were new to the term, but this woman knew exactly what I was talking about and shared how horrific she’d found the whole experience. She shared that her daughter had cried and cried for hours, and there was nothing she could do to console her. At times she’d have to leave her baby with another adult just to get away and collect herself. It was draining for both the baby and the mother. She said she’d felt very angry with her baby at times, because she couldn’t work out what was wrong or how to solve it, and the crying would just continue no matter what she did. She said it was very important for families with young babies to understand what PURPLE crying is, and to get a support system into place. She felt that being aware and prepared would have helped her.
The most important thing to remember is that this is a period in your child’s life and it is temporary. It can completely consume the weeks or months your baby goes through this part of their journey, but it too shall pass.