- Family and Parenting
Purple Crying: Coping with excessive baby crying
Fact: All babies cry. No arguing there.
Fact: Babies don't all cry the same. Some cry more, some cry less. And after all babies are different from each other.
But there is what is called excessive crying and that is something not all of us - as parents - understand. Actually, it is something we are not prepared for and coping with it is, to say the least a challenge.
Let me tell you about it.
Defining excessive crying
According to statistics, babies cry more from one month old until three months, by then crying starts decreasing slowly. During that time, and what is considered normal, is that a baby will cry on and off throughout the day, but never exceeding by much the 2 hours grand total. This is considered a normal crier.
Obviously, even 5 minutes cry can seem like an eternity when you are a parent.
Now, there are babies that cry less than average - and that can be a problem too - but then there are those that cry more, much more than the average - and this article will address that problem.
To understand the problem of the excessive crying you need to experience it, otherwise you can't fully comprehend. I have talked to a number of parents and each and everyone of them has talked about how terrible it was when the baby was crying, how it seemed like the parent needed to do something to soothe the baby, to stop the crying. But then I also noticed how most of them were not talking about the same kind of crying. I've also came across with those that know what I am talking about, but those were very few. According to statistics only 20 percent.
You see, only 20 % of the babies are excessive criers or high criers. It is possible that a mother of two, three or four children, has none that is an excessive crier. I have talked to a parent of seven, that told me he didn't know what too much crying was until he got to the seventh. I have talked to others that didn't have to wait that long, for some it happened the first time around, others the second, but no matter what, it's the same for everybody...
I don't know the reason for this excessive crying, no one does, if it's what some call colic, if it's stress, if it's a family related issue, something hereditary, there is no telling... I've often thought if it wasn't this last reason, since apparently I was also a high crier as a baby, but the fact is that parents with several children may have one high crier and another that is an average crier. Apparently there is no reason for this crying.
If we consider statistics a baby that is an excessive crier can cry a grand total of 6 hours a day, several days or months straight, against the average crier with just 2 hours a day. Moreover, such a baby can cry 2 hours straight non-stop against the 5, 10 or 15 minutes average.
This sort of crying is that sort that has no apparent reason: the baby is fed, the baby is rested, the diaper is changed, the baby is held, the baby is loved and pampered and all the little things in between, but still, no matter what, baby will not stop crying.
It may be difficult to understand, for those who have not experienced it, after all, the little cuties cry, but not that much and if we hold them or feed them or... they stop crying and then they look so lovely asleep and mom and dad even have some time for themselves.
But the thing is, with these high criers, nothing of that is true: mom and dad don't have time for themselves, baby doesn't sleep that much, baby just cries and cries and the parents are lost and just want to pull their own hair off with despair. Parents become sleep deprived, really start losing it and then there is that ringing in their ears all the time, so at some point even if there is no crying around them, they still hear crying in their head. All in all, it's far from pretty.
Period of purple crying
There is a time when crying is more natural, that is, it is expected a baby cries more between the one to three months old than at other times, reaching a peak at about two months old. But it doesn't stop there, at three months, it actually goes on for a bit longer, depending on the baby and the intensity also depends on the baby. This is important to understand several features of the crying and how it is temporary and therefore, no matter how despairing it may seem, it will pass and parents will have time to enjoy the baby despite this.
Realizing this and acknowledging the period of purple crying allows parents to cope better with the situation.
Purple actually is an acronym that stands for the features of crying that parents should be aware of.
P stands for Peak of crying, since the baby seems to cry more and more until reaching the peak at around two months, time it starts to decrease slowly.
U stands for Unexpected crying, since the baby may seem fine and suddenly starts crying for no apparent reason.
R stands for Resists soothing, because it really doesn't matter what parents do, since the baby will not stop crying.
P stands for Pain-like face, since the baby may seem like is in pain.
L stands for Long-lasting, since he can go on crying non-stop for hours.
E stands for Evening, since the baby may cry more at evening time.
It's important to realize that during this period a baby can cry for hours and still be healthy, it doesn't mean there is something wrong with the baby. It's also important to realize this is a time when the parents are put to the test and it's important not to lose one's temper, between parents, but also and more important with the baby.
No matter how despaired a parent might feel, he must never lose its temper with baby and never,ever shake the baby. Believe it or not, the period of purple crying is responsible for a lot of cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Understanding a baby's crying
Coming across a high crier
So, how did this subject caught my eye?
It actually caught not just my eye, but the whole of me... Because I gave birth to a high crier. And it's no misunderstanding, it's no case of having an average baby and just thinking he cries too much. No. And I know this, because exactly at the same time - well, one minute apart - I had an average crier.
I had twins, but my twins are completely different from each other, from the moment they were born, I could see how different they were.
It's not that my average crier didn't cry, make no mistake, he cried alright, but it was manageable. He cried, I fed him, I changed him, he slept a while, he cried again, I held him and that was that...
But my little girl... well, from the moment she was born she started crying. While the other slept, she cried and cried and kept crying no matter what. She didn't even wait until she was 1 month old and she sure didn't stop around three months old, she kept going until six or seven months old, more or less. Only then, she started calming down, not that she stopped crying, but at least it was manageable.
She amazed everyone. My sister that already had two daughters had never seen a baby like her. People stared at me everywhere I went, because the baby wouldn't stop crying, so everybody looked at me like I should be doing something wrong and it sure felt like it to me. At one point, tired as I was, sleep deprived and desperate, I started resenting her and then I started feeling a terrible mother for resenting her.
At the same time, I felt like I wasn't paying enough attention to my little boy, because she actually didn't allow me much spare time to spend with him.
So, I had to learn to deal with all the crying and although this article is only meant for 20 % of the parents out there, I thought my experience and my conclusions might be of help to some. Obviously, this is just a point of view, my point of view based on my experience, so it doesn't mean everyone else feels the same or that the same things work for other parents, so feel free to think or feel differently.
Another mother's view
Coping with a high crier
The bottom line is basically this: excessive crying is temporary, eventually it will go away, you just have to hold on until then.
So, how do you cope with it? How do you do, so you don't lose your mind?
If you think your baby cries too much, go to the doctor with the baby, have him do all the tests necessary. If your baby is healthy, then you just have a fussy baby and you need to cope with the situation.
- First you need to acknowledge it is temporary; Then that it's not you; That it's not just you; That it's not just your baby;
- A high crier demands that you get some help from friends or family for a variety of reasons, for you to have a moment to yourself, to get some work around the house done or even to sleep for a while. Yes, sleep is essential and, if your baby is a high crier, you are probably not getting much sleep.
I remember how my family was so far away that I didn't get much help, so at one point I was so sleep deprived I wasn't thinking straight anymore and at that time in your life you really need to be thinking straight.
- If you feel you are losing your temper and you've done all you could and nothing soothes the baby, if you think he is alright - apart from the crying bit - and he is in a safe place with no chance of hurting himself, just walk away, go into another room and breathe for a while.
I remember a few times when my baby girl cried for 2 hours straight - I actually clocked it sometimes - I just ironed for a while (I also checked on her often), I know it sounds strange, but it calmed me down and clothes needed ironing, so it was a win-win.
- Each day think that you are a bit closer to the end of all that crying. It may not seem much, but it can really get you going.
- Ignore the eye balling and the whispers when you walk by with your crying baby, if they whisper it's because they don't know what you are going through.
- Find others that are going through the same as you. They are out there. Talking about it with someone that gets you, really goes a long way.
Sometimes it seems far, far away, it seems another lifetime away, but it was just four years ago.
Now, believe it or not, despite all the hardship and the challenge my baby girl was, I bonded with her in a way that I might say was impossible, back then.
It's true, despite all I felt at the time, my love is such, that I'm not quite sure I can keep it all in me, I feel it overflow from me to them, to my two babies, my high crier and my average crier... and I find it more amazing how something so very hard can translate into so much love, a melted heart as I look at them with all this laughter in my eyes and so many hugs and kisses to go around.
So, if you have a high crier, think nothing of it, in the end it will pass, it will not damage your relationship with your child, if anything it will make it stronger, despite of what it may seem to you at those hard times, you just need to keep your head cool and never give up... after all isn't that what parenting is?
At the end of the day...Click thumbnail to view full-size
Was your baby a high cryer?
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© 2012 Joana e Bruno