A baby cries as they lie in bed.
Think of it as a boisterous, “Hello.” Your newborn’s crying is the only way he can communicate with you. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Crying is something you have to get used to with a new baby. They can’t talk like we do, so their only way to communicate is through crying.

And it can be difficult at times to know why a baby is crying. It could be any number of reasons.

At Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, and at some of the other Spectrum Health hospitals, we give our new parents a DVD, “The Period of Purple Crying.”

This DVD has great information. It points out the simple fact that all babies cry, but some will cry more than others.

Some new parents don’t know this, or in some instances they may not understand the full extent of it.

It’s important to let your child’s doctor know about any problems your child is having. The doctor can determine if there’s a more serious underlying problem.

Keep in mind that all infants show varying degrees of crying—it can fluctuate and it can start and stop unexpectedly. The difference in each case is the extent to which the crying continues.

Although it’s called purple crying, it doesn’t mean the baby turns purple while crying. It’s an acronym:

  • Peak of crying happens at about 2 weeks to 5 months old, and usually peaks around 2 months.
  • Unexpected or unpredictable crying—there doesn’t seem to be a reason for it.
  • Resists soothing.
  • Painful-looking crying. While it may look painful, the baby isn’t in pain.
  • Long-lasting crying can last five or more hours per day.
  • Evening is when the baby is typically most fussy.

If you have a baby that seems to fit some of these characteristics, here are some things you can check for first:

  • Is your baby hungry?
  • Does your baby need a diaper change?
  • Is your baby too cold or too hot?
  • Is your baby sleepy or tired? Overstimulated? Bored?

If these things are taken care of and the baby is still, crying, here are some other things to try:

  • Try holding, rocking and cuddling your baby.
  • Sing to your baby.
  • Some babies like to be held in a certain way.
  • Find new ways to soothe your baby.

What can you do for yourself if you find yourself enduring a particularly long bout of crying from your little one?

  • First and foremost, remember: The crying won’t last forever, even though in the moment it may seem that way.
  • If you’re alone, put the baby in a safe place—a crib, for instance—and leave the room. This gives you a chance to collect yourself and regroup.
  • Have a time out for yourself. Let your partner or your friends or family members take the baby for a while so you can do something for yourself. Get out of the house, take a bubble bath, read a book. Just enjoy some quiet time.