Period of Purple Crying

As a licensed social worker and member of the Cook Children’s Child Advocacy Resources and Evaluation (CARE) Team, I go out and speak to parents about understanding crying. I let them know that crying is normal for a baby and teach moms and dads how to cope with their upset child.

Along with my training, I speak from the experience of being a mom.

When my oldest child (now 9) was born, I couldn’t understand my baby’s crying was normal. There had to be something more. I thought my little girl had colic or something was wrong. I wanted answers.

As I learned more about children and the issues parents face over the years, I learned I was wrong. Sometimes babies just cry. Now with my 6-month-old child, I know my baby will cry. Sometimes because my baby is hungry or needs a diaper change. But sometimes, just because. When that happens, I’ve learned it’s time to simply walk away.

Crying is the number one cause for babies getting shaken or abused. We use the Period of Purple Crying as an “out” for parents.

The Period of Purple Crying is a concept developed to explain colic by educating parents about normal crying behavior and the dangers of shaking babies. The program uses positive messages for parents, rather than negative warnings about detrimental consequences, to improve their relationship with their baby.

The Period of Purple Crying is based on almost 50 years of early infant development and crying research by an international cast of scientists and pediatricians. Related studies were done on non-mammalian (breast feeding) species, like chimpanzees, and found that their babies have a similar crying curve. Crying is a normal part of child development.

During this Period there are many characteristics that are better explained through the PURPLE acronym. All babies go through this period. Some babies cry a lot and some far less, but they all go through it.

P: Peak of crying – Your baby may cry more each week; the most at 2 months, then less at 3 to 4 months.

U: Unexpected – Crying can come and go and you don’t know why.

R: Resists soothing – Your baby may not stop crying no matter what you try to do.

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 – Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and/or evening.

To learn more about the Period of Purple Crying, visit

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