Period of PURPLE Crying Outreach


Period of PURPLE Crying Outreach
Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma Prevention

In partnership with Yolo County birthing hospitals, YCCA, as a project of the Yolo County Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC), distributes Period of PURPLE Crying materials, which educate new parents about Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma, baby safety, dealing with crying babies, and self-care during the stressful first months.

Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention

As a project of the Yolo County Child Abuse Prevention Council, YCCA works to prevent shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma (SBS/AHT) in Yolo County by supporting Yolo County birthing hospitals in their implementation of the Period of PURPLE Crying program from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. The Period of PURPLE Crying is an evidence-based SBS/AHT prevention program that aims to educate parents and caregivers about early increased infant crying and reduce the incidence of SBS/AHT. With support from the Davis Rotary, YCCA purchases and distributes the Period of PURPLE Crying educational material to the two Yolo County birthing hospitals: Sutter Davis Hospital Birthing Center and Woodland Memorial Hospital Family Birth Center.

What is Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma (SBS/AHT)?

SBS/AHT is a severe type of child abuse that occurs when an infant or small child is violently shaken by the shoulders, arms, or legs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SBS/AHT “resulting in head injury is a leading cause of child abuse death in the United States. Nearly all victims of SBS/AHT suffer serious health consequences and at least one of every four babies who are violently shaken dies from this form of child maltreatment.” For those who survive, long-term health consequences may include learning disabilities, blindness, seizures, behavioral disorders, and cognitive impairment.

What is the link between inconsolable crying and Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma (SBS/AHT)?

The CDC states that inconsolable crying is the primary trigger for SBS/AHT. Many parents and caregivers do not know that it is very normal for infants to cry, sometimes for prolonged periods. In fact, crying usually begins about 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months of age. This is known as the Period of PURPLE Crying as defined by the National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS). PURPLE, stands for:

  • Peak Pattern: Crying peaks around 2 months, then decreases
  • Unpredictable: Crying for long periods can come and go for no reason
  • Resistant to Soothing: The baby may keep crying for long periods
  • Pain-like Look on Face
  • Long Bouts of Crying: Crying can go on for hours
  • Evening Crying: Baby cries more in the afternoon and evening

I am a parent or caregiver of a baby. What can I do to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma?

The good news is that SBS/AHT is entirely preventable. Now that you know that crying is normal, you can learn to try multiple soothing techniques to calm your baby and make sure to take a break and seek help when you start to get frustrated or angry. It is also very important to share the information about normal crying, tips for soothing, and the harms of shaking a baby with anyone caring for your baby. Make sure never to leave your baby with someone who you think might get easily frustrated.

How can I soothe my crying baby?

When your baby is going through a very fussy or difficult time, it is normal to not know what to do. When you find yourself in this situation, you can try some of the soothing techniques in the following list. All of the following techniques may work some of the time, but it is important to remember that there may be times when none of these ideas may work.

  • Is your baby hungry? Try feeding him or her
  • Change your baby’s diaper
  • Try burping your baby
  • Swaddle the baby in a soft blanket and cuddle
  • Bathe your baby
  • Gently massage your baby
  • Give your baby a pacifier
  • Run a vacuum cleaner or dishwasher near your baby
  • Drive around with your baby in a car seat in your car
  • Put your baby in a stroller and take a walk
  • Sing to your baby
  • Rock your baby gently
  • Make eye contact with your baby
  • Put your baby underneath a baby mobile
  • Kiss your baby

If these soothing techniques do not work, you should check to see if your baby appears ill or is hurt. You can call your baby’s doctor if you think your baby is injured or sick.

Is it okay to take a break? YES!

It is normal for parents and caregivers to get frustrated and angry at babies sometimes, particularly if soothing techniques are not working. If all of these soothing techniques do not work and/or you find yourself getting frustrated or angry, it is time to take a break. When your baby’s crying becomes overwhelming or you find yourself unable to cope, please:

  • Set your baby down on his or her back in a safe place, such as a crib or bassinet
  • Take a deep breath or leave the room for a few minutes
  • Take care of yourself.  Do what you need to do to calm yourself down. This may involve breathing deeply, reading a book or magazine, talking to someone, or listening to music. If you have a partner, relative, or neighbor who you trust, ask them to watch the baby for a few minutes while you calm yourself down. Remember that it is not your fault and that babies under four months often cry a lot.
  • Check on your baby every 5 to 10 minutes
  • When you are calmer, go back to trying soothing techniques to calm your baby

Where can I get more help?

If you feel like you are so frustrated or angry that you could potentially hurt your baby, please put your baby down in a safe place and call the Child Help Hotline at 1-800-4-A-child. This is a toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that you can call to talk to a professionally trained counselor who can help you find ways to handle your infant’s crying and deal with other developmental issues that might frustrate you.

Where can I go for more information?