BELFAST, Maine — When parents leave Waldo County General Hospital with the newest member of their family, along with all the other paraphernalia that accompany a newborn, they also will have a video.
The video, “The Period of PURPLE Crying,” is designed to help parents understand their baby’s crying, according to a press release from the hospital.
While new bundles of joy are often portrayed as cooing in a bassinette or asleep in a parent’s arms, the truth is that even healthy babies cry a lot in their first five months of life. In fact, babies can still be healthy and normal even if they cry five hours a day.
The letters in PURPLE stand for:
• Peak of crying. A baby may cry more each week. The most is usually at 2 months and lessens in months 3 to 5.
• Unexpected. Crying can come and go and you don’t know why.
• Resists soothing. A baby may not stop crying no matter what you try.
• Painlike face. A crying baby may look like he or she is in pain, even when he or she is not.
• Long lasting. Crying can last as much as five hours a day, or more.
• Evening. A baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening.
According to the video put out by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, feeling angry or upset with a crying baby is OK. It is what you do with your anger that is important. Sometimes frustration provokes a parent to lose control and, without thinking, shake a baby.
Shaking a baby can cause blindness, seizures, learning and physical disabilities, and even death.
When parents start to get too frustrated, the video recommends putting the baby in a safe place and walking away. They should take a few minutes to calm down and then return to check on the baby.
It also is very important to be careful whom parents let care for their baby, especially during the first five months of life. It may be dangerous to leave a baby with a person who has problems handling frustration or has a quick temper.
“The Period of PURPLE Crying” program was developed by Ronald G. Barr, professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, after 25 years of research.