During the month of November, and for as long as the supply lasts, every baby born at Pratt Regional Medical Center went home with a purple hat. Their parents carried home a DVD and booklet that can help them understand that it’s normal for babies to cry and that they may not always be able to soothe them.
Hilary Murphy, Protection, who delivered her third child Nov. 30, said her babies have all been really calm, acknowledging that she and husband Joe have been lucky. Friends and a sister have had babies that “cried and cried.”
Crying tends to increase during the baby’s second week and peaks at about two months, then decreases after three to five months, according to Dr. Ronald Barr, a professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, Canada, who developed a program called The Period of Purple Crying in partnership with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome USA.
The program is provided to hospitals through the cooperation of several state organizations. Locally, volunteers with PRMC Auxiliary knit the hats and the Pilot Club of Pratt made a donation of $500 to buy purple yarn.
When parents come to the hospital for pre-admission during the last month of a pregnancy, they are asked to watch the 10-minute video and are given a copy to take home. Parents are encouraged to have babysitters watch the video also, said Betty Griffith, a nurse in the Family Birth Suites.
“We tell them crying is the only way a baby has to communicate,” Griffith said. “There are several things you can do to soothe them, including wrapping them up tight, making sure they’re fed, dry and warm. Sometimes they just need to suck.”
And sometimes, no matter what the parent does, the baby will cry, sometimes for hours.
It’s okay to lay the baby down and let it cry,” Griffith said. “Go calm down and then come back.”
It’s even okay and normal to feel angry or upset, according to the Purple Crying booklet, “Did You Know Your Baby Would Cry Like This?”
Crying is the number one reason parents shake and hurt their baby. Shaking can cause blindness, seizures, physical and learning disabilities and death.
New parents at PRMC get a whole packet of informational material, Griffith said, along with education from nurses.
“We teach every time we go in the door,” she noted.
Nurses also staff a hotline for parents and conduct a well mother, well baby clinic after dismissal.
“Period” in the name of the program assures parents that, in time, their baby will stop crying.