Does my baby have colic? Or is it purple crying?

Posted by evidencemommy on May 16th, 2019

When my first baby turned about six weeks old, she started crying for hours every night! It was exhausting, and I didn't know what to do to fix it. I remember walking and bouncing with her for hours in the middle of the night, but nothing really helped.

Again, my second baby started crying all evening when she turned six weeks old as well. I wondered to myself, "Why won't my baby stop crying?" but there really wasn't much I could do about it. All she wanted to do was breastfeed and be held, so that's what we did. After several weeks, the night-time crying stopped, much to our relief.

And when my third child turned six weeks and was crying all evening, I finally figured out that there was a pattern. I learned that this crying spell, that lasts about 4-6 weeks, is called purple crying and is a perfectly normal developmental phase.

While purple crying is really hard to deal with, there's some good news! Once you know it's a normal stage, you can be empowered to handle it effectively. So here's what you need to know about purple crying.

What is purple crying?

Purple crying is often mistaken for colic, but it's really not the same thing!

Don't worry, the word "purple" doesn't imply that your baby turns colors during purple crying, but instead is part of an acronym:

P - Peak of crying

This simply means that this stage is as bad as it gets. Your baby will start the phase around six weeks, it will be its worst from 8-10 weeks, and then it will start to get better by the time your little one is 3 or 4 months old.

U - Unexpected

There's no "visible" reason for purple crying. You've changed your baby, you've fed him, he isn't gassy... Nothing's really "wrong. Yet, the crying will not stop.

R - Resists soothing

You can rock your baby, you can feed your baby, you can try anything, but she still won't calm down. This is perfectly normal in this stage.

P - Pain-like face

When your baby is undergoing purple crying, it may look like he's grimacing in pain. His face may worry you, but he's actually okay.

L - Long-lasting

Unfortunately, purple crying lasts for hours. It usually starts up around 6-7 in the evening and may go on until 10 or 11. Again, it's not because you're doing something wrong, it's just what babies at this age do.

E - Evening

As I mentioned before, purple crying happens during the evening hours. Your infant may be perfectly happy during the day. You'll likely see some of those precious first coos and smiles in the morning time, but the evening is a whole different ball game.

How do you handle purple crying?

The main thing to remember is that you can't "fix" purple crying. So if your baby continues to cry even after everything you've done, you haven't done anything wrong. Your baby is simply going through a normal developmental stage, like learning to crawl or walk later.

The main thing to do is to stay calm and take care of yourself when you can. Get plenty of sleep (that probably means you'll need some naps) and get some space from your baby when you have someone else to take a turn.

And in the evening when your baby does start crying, the important thing isn't to try to make her stop. Your job is to be there with her while she cries. By doing this, you're letting your newborn know that you are there for her, even when she is difficult.

I hope this information has helped you feel better about your baby. You don't have a "bad" baby, you aren't a "bad" parent, you're just going through growing pains. Enjoy her through the day and comfort her at night. You've got this, Momma.

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