Not all babies cry at the same level, but all babies do cry. It is important to understand that crying does not necessarily indicate pain or discomfort in your baby.
Why babies cry
Your baby will cry under the following circumstances:
are hungry or thirsty
are tired or bored
have a wet or dirty nappy
are lonely and want comfort
No matter the reason, your baby cries in order to receive your attention. You will improve your understanding of their needs as you become more acquainted with each other.
Colic is characterized by frequent and excessive crying in an otherwise healthy baby, making it difficult to provide comfort.
Stomach pain could be caused by bubbles of trapped wind, which is one of the potential reasons.
What if my baby has colic?
Colic, characterized by unexplained and uncontrollable crying in otherwise healthy babies, is considered a condition rather than an illness, with its actual cause remaining unproven.
If your baby has colic, they will often show symptoms such as a red flushed face, clenched fists, drawing their knees to their tummy, and arching their back. These symptoms typically occur in the late afternoon or evening.
Up to one in five babies can be affected by this common condition, which typically begins within the first few weeks of their life. Fortunately, it will usually cease by the time they reach the four to six month stage, and this phase will not have any long-term impact on them.
What causes colic?
Your baby may develop colic if they:
not in the right position or attached properly when you’re breastfeeding
feeding too quickly from a bottle
You can prevent colic by:
sitting or holding them upright when you’re giving a feed
gently massaging their tummy, though they’ll need to be calm for you to do that
making sure you wind them afterwards.
Seek advice from your midwife, health visitor, family nurse, or breastfeeding counsellor.
Can you explain what PURPLE crying is?
Experts have introduced the concept of the period of PURPLE crying to aid parents in comprehending this phase in their baby’s life. The acronym PURPLE serves as a memorable representation of the experiences shared between parents and their babies.
The peak of crying occurs when your baby is around 2 months old. From three to five months old, the crying tends to decrease. The crying can start and stop unexpectedly, leaving you unsure of the reason. Regardless of your attempts to soothe them, sometimes your baby will continue crying. While your baby may appear to be in pain, it is unlikely that they actually are. The crying can last for several hours a day. Additionally, your baby tends to cry more in the late afternoon and evening.
What is the meaning of PURPLE?
Peak of Crying: This phase usually begins around 2 weeks of age, peaks at around 2 months, and then gradually decreases. During this period, babies may cry more than at any other time in their infancy.
Unexpected: The crying can occur at any time of the day or night, without any apparent reason or specific trigger, catching parents by surprise.
Resists Soothing: The crying may not respond to typical soothing methods, such as feeding, diaper changing, or rocking, which can be frustrating and distressing for both the baby and their caregivers.
Pain-like Face: Babies may appear to have a pain-like expression during these crying episodes, even though there is no medical issue causing the crying.
Long-Lasting: The crying spells can last for an extended period, often for several hours each day.
Evening Crying: Many babies experience a more intense bout of crying in the late afternoon or evening.
At which stage does PURPLE crying happen?
The Period of PURPLE Crying starts when the baby is around 2 weeks old and lasts until they are approximately 3-4 months old.
Dr. Ronald Barr, a developmental pediatrician who has conducted research on infant crying, coined the term the Period of PURPLE Crying with the intention of elucidating this stage to parents of newborns, ensuring them that it is a normal occurrence and will eventually cease. According to Dr. Barr, all infants experience this phase, although the duration and intensity of crying may vary among individual babies. This period will conclude as the baby approaches the age of 6 months.
Ways to help you cope with the period of PURPLE crying
Distribute the workload among everyone.
When facing a difficult situation with your baby, it is important to remember that you should not handle it on your own. Instead, you should share the responsibility with your partner or family members. Take turns with them to offer comfort and support to your little one. It is crucial to keep in mind that you are united in this challenge and should refrain from blaming each other. By working together as a team, you can prevent further distress for your already unsettled baby, who may be able to sense any tension in the environment.
If you don’t feel confident about fully stepping away, find solace upstairs while your baby and friends are downstairs. Alternatively, you can take a break and ask willing family members and close friends to help out for an hour.
Although it may appear enticing to stay at home in comfortable clothes and watch television when your baby cries, going out may have a calming effect on your child. Soothing your baby by rocking or pushing them in a stroller can be effective, or consider using a sling to keep them close to you, which is also convenient for carrying them around while attending to household chores.
White noise is simply considered to be noise.
Certain music genres are claimed by some mothers to have a calming effect on their babies. Additionally, experts contend that specific sounds contribute to soothing a baby, ranging from ‘white noise’ to the sound of a vacuum cleaner.
To recreate the feeling of being in the womb, you can download various apps that provide similar noises onto your mobile or tablet. Additionally, there are teddies that can mimic the sounds of the placenta or heartbeat, further enhancing the sensation for your baby.
Run a bath
To unwind and help your baby relax, baths are an excellent option. Utilize this opportunity to find tranquility together. Adjust the lighting, position yourself behind your little one so that their back rests against your tummy, and softly massage their belly and toes to induce relaxation.
Soothing a crying baby
It is crucial to provide a response and not abandon them to weep. Nevertheless, if you are feeling overwhelmed, it is acceptable to take a brief break until you feel more capable of dealing with the situation.
If they begin to shed tears:
try skin to skin contact
pick them up, talk to them and cuddle them
rock them or pat or gently rub their back, tummy or feet
You could also attempt:
placing them in a sling – some babies like the closeness this brings
a warm bath
checking to see they’re not cold or overheating
moving them somewhere calm and quiet
having a change of scene – go for a walk or a drive
If your baby cries a lot
If you have attempted several strategies and your baby continues to cry frequently,
Keep a diary of your baby’s crying so you can see how things are changing
Talk to other moms and dads and see if they have any ideas you can use – it’s sometimes helpful to know other parents are going through the same thing and you’re doing everything you can
Talk to your partner, someone close to you, and your midwife, health visitor or family nurse about how the crying’s affecting you and get help if you need it
Take some time out from your baby – ask someone you trust to look after them while you take a break
How to cope with a crying baby
If you’ve attempted all possible solutions and your baby’s crying persists, it could be due to the period of PURPLE crying that is experienced by all infants.
What should you do next if you have already attempted to soothe your baby by feeding, burping, changing their diaper, and putting them to bed, but they continue to cry?
If your baby is crying excessively and you are becoming extremely upset or angry:
put them down somewhere safe
ask someone else to hold them
leave the room
If your baby is crying, you can use the ‘ICON’ method to remember what actions you can take.
I – Infant crying is normal and it’ll stop – babies start to cry more frequently from around 2 weeks of age, after about 8 weeks of age babies start to cry less each week
C – Comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and help the crying stop – is the baby hungry, tired or in need of a nappy change?
O – It’s OK to walk away if you’ve checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you – after a few minutes when you’re feeling calm, go back and check on the baby
N – Never, ever shake or hurt a baby – it can cause lasting brain damage or death
Never shake a baby
No matter how frustrated you feel, it is important to never shake or smack your baby.
From November 2020, all forms of physical punishment towards children, including shaking infants, will become illegal.
Shaking your baby can result in the breakage and internal bleeding of small blood vessels in their brain, leading to the following potential consequences:
It has the potential to be fatal as well.
If you or someone shakes your baby, it is crucial to seek medical assistance without delay.
When to get help
Trust your instincts when your baby is continuously crying, even if you have tried everything or are concerned about them.
If you require assistance in managing and dealing with crying, there are numerous options available for support. Consult your health visitor or family nurse to inquire about available local resources for help.
If you think your baby might be ill
If you suspect that your baby might be unwell, it is advisable to seek some guidance. Additionally, you have the option to consult your health visitor or family nurse to verify the well-being of your baby.
If your baby is healthy, you might have to come to terms with this being the current state of your baby. Many babies cry frequently and it causes concern for many parents, however, with time, they should become more calm. You are not doing anything incorrectly and it is not your fault.