The incessant wail of your newborn is enough to send any parent on a roller coaster of emotions, from worry (is baby sick?) to irritation (will it ever stop?) and exhaustion (must sleep now). The good news is, these cry-fests are normal. The bad news? They could go on for the next few weeks.
That’s because starting around two weeks old, baby enters a peak time of crying that can last up to three months. His or her GI and nervous system are still adjusting and maturing, and he or she’s trying their best to figure out this new world. So, you know, there’s a lot to cry about.
Some doctors chalk up the tears to colic, a vague term used when an infant is inconsolable and cries more than three hours a day. Child psychologists call this developmental time the PURPLE period. The acronym stands for Peak of crying, Unexpected (it’s hard to figure out why the heck baby is crying), Resists soothing, Pain-like face (you worry but he or she isn't in pain), Long-lasting (three hours or more of crying per day) and Evening (it’s worse at night).
This time period can be brutal. Besides the frustration of not being able to console baby and the lack of sleep, there’s the sheer agony of hearing baby cry for hours. “I encourage parents to take breaks,” says Melissa Arca, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician in Roseville, California, and author of the blog Confessions of a Dr. Mom. “Ask a friend or family member for help. Realize and believe that your baby is a good baby, and he or she will get through this peak phase of crying and soon be smiling and cooing most of the day.”
When you’re stressed, taking a walk outside can work wonders, and the movement of the carrier or stroller can soothe baby too. If you’re worried about the crying, it’s worth a call to your pediatrician to make sure nothing else, like reflux or food sensitivities, is to blame. If there’s nothing wrong, you’ll have to wait it out. “Hang in there, new moms and dads. It really will get better,” Arca assures.
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