The PURPLE Crying Period

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Crying for hours on end may simply be a sign that your baby is developing normally.

During the first few months of life, many babies will cry for hours at a time, often in the evening. Colic is a term often associated with babies during this period of life, conjuring to mind images of sickly infants and poor health. But babies who exhibit signs of colic are often quite healthy and may simply be exercising their lungs. In fact, according to the Nemours Foundation, an estimated 40 percent of infants may experience colic during the first three or four months of life.

A Positive Spin on a Common Occurrence

To help parents understand that frequent crying is not always a sign that a baby is in distress, a developmental pediatrician developed the concept of the Period of PURPLE crying. An acronym that describes the first few months of a baby’s life and unexplained periods of constant crying, PURPLE crying may be broken down as follows:

  • Peak of crying—The first three months of life are often marked by long periods of crying.
  • Unexpected—Constant crying may occur at any time and often without a visible cause.
  • Resists soothing—Your baby’s crying may be beyond your control.
  • Pain-like face—Unhappy facial expressions may not always indicate discomfort.
  • Long lasting—Periods of crying may last for hours on end day after day.
  • Evening—Crying is most common later in the day, occurring in the afternoons and evenings.

If your baby has been crying more often than you expected, remember these points and try to relax. More than likely, your child is simply doing what he or she is supposed to do during these developmental months.

Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Soundly

Your baby is not sleeping all the way through the night? Don’t worry! Waking up frequently during the night is common during a baby’s first few months of life. But you need your rest, too.

Making sure that everyone in the house is getting the proper amount of sleep to recharge is critical, and it often depends on setting your infant up for success before bed. To help you baby sleep soundly:

  • Build a strong relationship. Devote lots of time and attention to your baby throughout the day to promote a sense of security and trust.
  • Pay attention to the signs. Is your baby getting drowsy or fussy in the early evening? That may be your cue to put your baby to bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, babies who head for bed when they appear tired but are not yet sleeping are more likely to fall asleep on their own at bedtime and stay asleep throughout the night.
  • Rock your baby before bed. The calming, rhythmic movement is soothing and comforting.

Be patient as you establish your bedtime routines, and remember, while it’s not always pleasant, crying is completely normal.

Did You Know?

> According to, magic was once considered a remedy for teething—a common cause of crying and distress for infants and parents alike.

> You don’t always have to put on a brave face. Crying may actually be good for you! According to researchers with the St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center, crying helps your body flush out toxins associated with stress, such as cortisol.

> Do animals cry tears of grief? Maybe so. According to New York University’s, veterinary professionals with the London Zoo told Charles Darwin that elephants may mourn like human beings, shedding tears of grief when a loss or other sad experience occurs.

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