Child Development and Parenting

Period of PURPLE Crying


Seattle Children’s Protection, Advocacy and Outreach Program leads the Abusive Head Trauma Prevention Coalition of Washington. The mission of this coalition is to prevent abusive head trauma by educating parents and caregivers in Washington state about normal infant crying and ways to cope with stress via an education program called the Period of PURPLE Crying (PURPLE).

PURPLE Education Keeps Infants Safe from Abuse

Watch this video to learn more about the statewide effort to share the Period of PURPLE Crying program – a video-based parent education program that helps new parents learn how to safely care for their baby during periods of extended crying and other highly stressful times.

About Period of PURPLE Crying

Period of PURPLE Crying is a research-based education program developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Program materials include a booklet with app or DVD (available in mulitple languages), a 10-minute video on crying and a 17-minute video on soothing.

The letters in PURPLE stand for…

  • Peak of crying. Your baby may cry more each week, the most in month 2, then less in months 3–5.
  • Unexpected. Crying can come and go and you don't know why.
  • Resists soothing. Your baby may not stop crying no matter what you try.
  • Pain-like face. A crying baby may look like they are in pain, even when they are not.
  • Long-lasting. Crying can last as much as 5 hours a day, or more.
  • Evening. Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening.

The word “period” means that the crying has a beginning and an end.

If you are worried something is wrong with your baby, check with your doctor.

Information for Parents

  • Did you know your baby would cry like this?

    Healthy babies cry a lot in their first five months of life. Crying usually begins at 2 weeks of age and increases in the first few months. Most babies reach their peak of crying at 2 months. Some babies cry for 1–2 hours a day and others can cry up to 6 hours a day.

  • How can I soothe my baby?
    • Hold your baby close to you with skin-to-skin contact.
    • Walk and sing to your baby.
    • Give your baby a warm bath.
    • Take your baby outside for a walk.
    • Check to see if your baby is hungry or tired, or needs changing.
  • Does soothing always work?

    No. Soothing won’t always stop your baby’s crying. If you are feeling frustrated:

    • Put your baby down in a safe place and walk away. Take a few minutes to calm down and then go back and check on your baby.
    • Reach out to a trusted family member or friend for support.
    • No matter how frustrated you get, never shake your baby.
  • Is it normal to feel frustrated?

    Feeling angry or upset is OK. It’s what you do with your anger that is important. Take a break from the crying and take care of yourself too.

    Crying is frustrating to you because:

    • Your baby cries more than you expected.
    • This is harder than you thought.
    • You feel like you are a bad parent or that you are doing something wrong.
    • You are tired and feel guilty that you can’t take care of your baby.
    • You feel like a failure.

    No matter how frustrated you get, never shake your baby.

  • Why is shaking a baby so dangerous?
    1. Adults are much bigger and stronger than babies.
    2. Babies have weak neck muscles and their brains are still developing.
    3. If shaken, a baby’s brain bounces around inside the skull causing severe bleeding and swelling.

    Shaking can cause blindness, brain damage and death

    Signs a baby may have been shaken:

    • Trouble sucking or swallowing
    • Decreased appetite
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Increased fussing or irritability
    • Difficult to wake
    • Vomiting
  • Where can I find help?
    • Check with your doctor if you are worried there is something wrong that is causing your baby to cry.
    • Talk with your nurse about the Period of PURPLE Crying program – a free booklet and DVD or app that includes a 10-minute film on crying and a 17-minute video on soothing to help you understand why your baby cries and how to comfort them.
    • Go to for more information about infant crying.

Information for Hospitals, Providers and Other Organizations

  • PURPLE in Washington state

    Approximately 80% of all families of newborns receive the Period of PURPLE Crying (PURPLE) materials in the hospital after the birth of their baby. PURPLE materials are also distributed by Washington state’s Children’s Administration to families they serve.

    A wide variety of other organizations and providers distribute PURPLE materials to families and caregivers around the state, such as child care facilities, fire stations, schools, parenting classes and babysitting classes.

  • Are you interested in providing PURPLE materials to your patients and families?

    We are always looking for partners to help spread the important messages of PURPLE – not only to families and caregivers but also to the general public – to increase awareness about normal infant crying, promote a positive and supportive community for families and, ultimately, keep all children safe from abuse.

    Call us at 206-987-3400 or send us an email.