Sunday, June 20, 2010

Project Helps Parents Understand Colic as "Purple Crying"

A doula in my local doula association recently sent around a link to a website called The Period of Purple Crying. I checked it out and found that their goal is to help parents understand that there is a stage of development in which their baby may cry inconsolably or inexplicably... and that this is normal! The organization refers to this stage as "purple crying" in an effort to change parents' perception that their baby has a problem that needs to be fixed. I'm not sure that "purple crying" sounds much better than "colic," but I think the information that they provide on their website is useful nonetheless!

I've included an excerpt below. Visit the Period of Purple Crying website to see more articles and related videos.

The period of purple crying is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development. It is confusing and concerning to be told your baby “has colic” because it sounds like it is an illness or a condition that is abnormal. 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.

The period of purple crying begins at about 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months. There are other common characteristics of this phases, or period, which are better described by the acronym PURPLE. All babies go through this period; some can cry a lot, some far less, but they all go through it.


Holly said...

Great that you're spreading the word about Purple Crying! I like to also tell parents that while crying or 'colic' is a developmental stage, it's still helpful to try various measures to soothe their baby - particularly the 5 S's (Happiest Baby on the Block). I find sometimes that simply knowing there's nothing wrong (medically speaking) with their baby just isn't enough...they still want to know what to do about the crying!

Holly (

Doula Emily said...

The day after I posted this blog entry, a doula in my local doula association expressed concerns that the idea of "purple crying" is not without problems of its own. She said:

"There are cultures where babies do not cry for extended periods of time without illness or injury. In our culture we are beginning to think of extended periods of crying as a physiological norm.

I personally think extended crying is frequently triggered by detachment which may have occurred during the birth through the use of drugs both IV or epidural and limited skin to skin contact with baby the for weeks following birth.

As a culture, we have altered the physiological birth process and therefore we have altered what is normal. Now we have "experts" who label this change as normal."

She goes on to say that perhaps babies are suffering from the lack of bonding hormones and endorphins they would have received at birth if not for all the medical intervention.

I am not sure that I agree because I think there are probably many mothers who had healthy births with no medical interventions who have still had to endure extended periods of crying with their babies. But I wanted to share her opinion here because I had not thought about the fact that perhaps there are cultures where what we experience regularly is not considered "normal."

Haughstuff said...

This is very interesting. I had two very early babies, the first we could not hold for a week, and was in the hospital about 7 weeks. I never had this problem with either baby, but once we could take them home I kept them in a sling and nursed them almost constantly the first few months.