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  • Is Your Baby's Incessant Crying Normal? Use 'PURPLE Crying' to Find Out

    Use this acronym to determine whether your baby's moods fall within what is considered normal.
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Is Your Baby's Incessant Crying Normal? Use 'PURPLE Crying' to Find Out
PHOTO BY @Handemandaci/iStock
  • One of the most endearing sounds a new mom will hear is of her baby crying — it’s what signals the beginning of her parenthood journey, as soon as he emerges from the womb! However, the sound of a baby crying is distressing, too, especially if you can’t do anything to stop it.

    There are a lot of reasons why a baby would cry, and often, a mom’s exhaustion (from getting little to no sleep), coupled with frustration (from not being able to figure out why the baby is crying) makes her want to cry herself. While it is natural for a baby to cry, for a first-time mom, that sound signals distress. She’ll ask herself questions from, “Is the baby in pain?” to “Is he sick?” to “Is it an emergency?” and finally, “AM I DOING SOMETHING WRONG??”

    Most parents are quick to attribute a baby’s excessive crying to colic — it's when a healthy baby cries for approximately three hours straight, at least three days a week, when he is under 3 weeks old up until he reaches 3 months. However, new research shows it is quite normal for babies to cry for extended periods of time at this age, or even when he is a bit older. But how do you differentiate “normal” crying from one that requires immediate medical attention?

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    The National Shaken Baby Syndrome (NSBS) wanted to help new parents through an initiative that would educate them about their baby's crying. It teaches what to look for when observing the baby that would constitute a normal crying curve. It also aims to enlighten them about the dangers of shaking a baby


    Through a research-based program called PURPLE Crying, the NSBS hopes to support new parents during their first foray into parenthood. The word PURPLE is an acronym (and not the color your baby's skin would become) that stands for the things one should observe when baby is crying:

    Peak of crying - babies cry a lot, but you will notice these instances becoming more frequent as the weeks pass, and becoming more pronounced on the second month. 

    Unexpected - It could happen any time of the day (or night), and in varying lengths.

    Resists soothing - Baby may not respond to your attempts to soothe him, and may continue crying despite your attempts.

    Pain-like face - A baby in the PURPLE Crying phase may look like he is in pain as he lets out a cry, even if he is not actually in pain. 

    Long-lasting - There is no telling up to when a crying episode will last when a baby is in the PURPLE Crying stage. It could go on for hours or days at a time. 

    Evening - It is likely that the crying will happen during the late afternoon or at nighttime. 

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    How to soothe your crying baby

    Even if you know that these spelling bouts are unpredictable, and that your baby might keep crying anyway, do your best to soothe him by doing the following: 

    Hold your baby

    There is nothing that comforts a baby more than the loving touch and warm embrace of a loving parent. While you’re at it, try talking to him in hushed tones, and he’ll likely calm down. 

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    Feed your baby before he gets very hungry

    A fussy baby will be difficult to breastfeed — i.e., won’t stay still, can’t latch properly, won’t calm down. Be sure he gets fed before he reaches this stage!

    Swaddle your baby

    When you swaddle your baby, you recreate the environment that he has grown in, which is your womb. But make sure he won’t feel too warm or too tight in there. 

    Play white noise

    Dr. Harvey Karp, co-founder of Happiest Baby, says that a baby still inside his mother’s tummy “hears the nonstop sound of the blood flow, which is louder than a vacuum cleaner.” The constant sound used to relax and put him to sleep. When they’re out, babies usually respond positively to white noise. 

    Find 8 more ways to soothe your baby when he’s crying nonstop here.

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