What is with That Crying Baby?

We’ve all been there before, we’re out for dinner at our favourite restaurant or enjoying our time walking the aisles of our favourite department store and then you hear it – an uncontrollable, inconsolable, crying baby.

If you’ve been in this position before, maybe you’ve had some of the following thoughts run through your mind:

What are they doing wrong to make that baby cry so hard and for so long? That baby looks to be a few months old, shouldn’t they have it under control by now? Why would they bring such a fussy baby in public around all of these people?

If you have had these thoughts, you’re likely not alone, but there are a few things that may help you understand the situation a little better and be better prepared for your next outing.

This baby (and its parents/caregivers) may be experiencing the “Period of Purple Crying”.

During this time, which can start at about 2 weeks of age and last for up to 5 months, the baby will cry loudly and ongoing, regardless of what the parent – or anyone else- tries to do to console them.

The crying often is very unexpected and can come out of the blue. Chances are the parent didn’t anticipate the crying would begin while they were out of the house. Ruining your meal or interrupting your shopping experience was not their intent.

The Period of Purple crying is 100% normal and does not mean that the baby is unhealthy or in any pain.

Another thing to keep in mind is just how difficult the Period of Purple Crying is for the parent or caregiver. Staring, making unkind remarks or facial expressions of disapproval do nothing to help the situation, and can lead to feelings of further guilt and frustration from the parent or caregiver of the child. These emotions can lead to the baby being shaken and harmed in an attempt to quiet them down and stop the crying. (You may have heard of the term “Shaken Baby Syndrome” which is when a baby incurs a serious brain injury resulting from being forcefully shaken?

If you are out and about and come across a parent and baby who may be experiencing this Period of Purple Crying, please be kind. A friendly smile or kind word of encouragement can go a long way.

If you would like more information on the Period of Purple Crying, or any other baby-related topics, please call our Healthy Growth & Development Team at 519-352-7270 EXT 2903.

We are CK Public Health.