What is PURPLE crying?

Also called colic, understanding the PURPLE period of crying will set parents’ minds at ease

Babies often cry. Indeed, some babies seem to cry a lot and nothing helps. During this phase of a baby’s life, they can cry for hours and still be healthy and normal. Parents often worry that there is something wrong. However, even after a checkup from the doctor that shows the baby is healthy, baby continues to cry for hours, night after night. In extreme situations, a crying baby can be a source of tremendous frustration for parents and caregivers.

The PURPLE period of crying

If parents understand that bouts of crying, especially during the first few months of life, are normal, they will be less frustrated and be more comfortable with their infant. In fact, all babies go through what is called the PURPLE period of crying. Each letter of the word PURPLE stands for something that describes this period of crying, something that is essentially seen in all babies to some degree:

P: Peak of crying — Baby may cry more each week. They tend to cry more at two months and then less at three to five months.

U: Unexpected — Crying can come and go, and you do not know why.

R: Resists soothing — Baby may not stop crying, no matter what you try.

P: Pain-like face — A crying baby may look like they are in pain, even when they are not.

L: Long-lasting — Crying can last as much as five hours a day, or more.

E: Evening — Baby may cry more during the late afternoon or evening. I refer to this as a crying shift.

Essentially, all babies go through this period when their crying peaks at about two months of age. Yet every baby differs by the intensity of the crying during this period. Some babies cry more intensely than others do during this time period, while others cry, but less intensely at the same age. In fact, intense crying represents about five to 15 percent of all crying and fussing that infants do. Excessive crying can be seen in all babies, no matter if they are breastfed or formula fed. If you or someone you know has a newborn baby that is crying a lot, it is important to understand that in most cases, this is normal. Knowing more about your baby and the period of PURPLE crying will lessen your frustration and worries, and allow you to fully enjoy your new family addition. For more information, visit www.purplecrying.info.

In addition to the above, crying may be a way babies express their needs such as being hungry, being tired, or needing a diaper change. Different types or sounds of crying mean different things. As babies grow older and become better able to express themselves through other forms of communication, they will cry less often, and for shorter periods of time.