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Prepared for Purple Crying

First-time mom Ashley Brost has big plans for her son’s first summer.

Every day is a new adventure for the young teacher and her six-month-old son Benton. She loves to watch him try new things: splashing in the water, trying to pick up things with tiny little fingers or bouncing up and down with outstretched toes in the jumping chair attached to the frame of their living room door.

“I don’t know what I did before I had him,” says Ashley, touching noses with her giggling baby boy. “He’s this incredible new little being and I just want to hang out with him all the time.”

Before Benton was born, Ashley wasn’t sure what life with a newborn would be like. She took classes on baby care, birthing and breastfeeding, trying to be as prepared as possible.

Getting ready

When Benton was just hours old, she was given a DVD at The Birth Place on “The Period of Purple Crying.” The educational video which told her how to expect and cope with newborn crying was an important message to hear just before she came home with her first baby.

“It’s such a good reminder,” says Ashley, tickling Benton’s toes. “You want them to be healthy and happy, but you also need to know that you’re not a bad parent if you need to put them down in the crib for a few moments.”

Life with a newborn can sometimes be challenging. Many new parents don’t realize that all infants go through a phase of increased crying in the first few months of life, generally beginning at about two weeks of age and continuing through about three to four months.

Ashley said she learned about how this time called the Period of Purple Crying can be extremely frustrating for new parents. All babies go through this, some more and some less, but it’s a phase that parents and anyone who will care for the baby needs to understand.

Why purple?

The word purple helps parents remember a few facts about this stage of infant life:

P – Peak of Crying: New babies may cry more each week. The most is at two months, then less at three to five months.

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

R – Resists Soothing: A baby may not stop crying no matter what a parent tries.

P – Pain-like Face: A crying baby may look like he is in pain, even when he is not.

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

E – Evening: The baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening.

When a baby starts crying there are plenty of things a parent can do to help soothe the child: feeding or burping the baby, a bath or a massage, some babies respond to singing or humming, while others may like white noise or a ride in the car. If nothing seems to work and the parent is beginning to feel frustrated or angry, it is time to take a break.

Ashley said that she appreciated getting the message that it’s okay to find someone else to watch the baby for a little while or simply put the baby down in a safe place and walk away. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It means you know you need to calm down before you go back to your baby, she said.

A normal experience

Ashley said the video helped prepare her for the normal “fussiness” that her son went through started at about three weeks old. Most days he calmed right down if she rocked him and held him close with his blanket. There was one night when he was about six weeks old that she couldn’t stop his crying.

“He was just inconsolable,” says Ashley. “I spent the night walking and pacing the house with him for hours before he finally fell asleep.”

The new mom said every new parent can benefit from knowing more about “purple crying.” Even with a baby as easy to soothe as her son, Benton, there are days when crying will happen, she said.

“As a new mom, you have this idea that if your baby cries, something is wrong and you need to fix it,” Ashley said. “Sometimes there’s just nothing you can fix. And there’s nothing wrong with you.”

Posted Date: July 2012