Purple Crying Program Will Make You Re-Think Your Parenting Skills

Linda Sharps
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When my now-3-year-old was an infant, I was fairly convinced he had reflux or colic or some kind of painful baby ailment of some kind. I remember feeling trapped in a sort of endless cycle of crying, difficult feedings, puke, more crying, more difficult feedings, and more puke. My pediatrician said he was fine, but every single person I knew had a colic story of some kind or another, and each one involved a different sort of treatment.

Here's a partial list of some suggestions I got: check him for thrush, switch to soy, add Karo syrup to his bottle, buy venting bottles, try Zantac/Prevacid, use gas drops, put digestive enzymes in his bottle, massage his belly in the direction of the digestive tract, check him for Pyloric Stenosis as he may need surgery (!!).

Meanwhile, the doctor was like, "Yeah. Babies cry. It sucks, but he'll get over it." And you know what? He did. The Time of Crying and Spitting Up eventually faded, although we still have the carpet stains as a memento.

I was so utterly convinced something was WRONG with my kid, I wish I'd known then about The Period of PURPLE Crying.

Have you heard of this? Developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, The Period of PURPLE Crying is intended to educate parents that seemingly endless amounts of crying are a perfectly normal part of a baby's development. This program shies away from the term "colic" altogether, instead promoting the idea that long-lasting, painful-looking crying isn't related to an illness or abnormal condition.


The PURPLE part of the name isn't related to the reddish face babies often get when they're sobbing inconsolably, but rather the following:



Now, I never shook my baby, thank you very much, but I'm pretty sure I would have found this information helpful—if only to counter the growing fear I had that my baby was sick and I needed to "fix" him.


I only heard about The Period of PURPLE Crying a couple weeks ago when a radio station PSA mentioned the website, but apparently some families are being required to watch brief DVDs on the subject before leaving the hospital with their newborn.


It sounds like a great idea to me, but I'm sure some folks who saw great results from reflux medications will disagree. The Period of PURPLE Crying basically discounts the idea that you should treat a child for crying ("When the baby is given colic medicine, it reinforces the idea that there is something wrong with the baby when in fact the baby is going through a very normal developmental phase").


How do you know if your baby has a legitimate GERD issue or if they're just experiencing the dreaded PURPLE period? I have no idea, really. But I like any program that tries to take some of the frustration and fear out of those early months of new parenthood.


Have you heard of The Period of PURPLE Crying? Do you think it sounds like a good idea to present it during hospital stays, etc., or do you think it could lead to missed diagnoses?



Image via Flickr/I Should Be Folding Laundry

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