Crying is the way babies let us know they are hungry or need something, have discomfort or pain, are tired, lonely, or frustrated. Crying does not mean that your baby is angry with you, or being bad.
Some babies cry a lot, others hardly at all. Crying typically increases around two weeks of age, reaches a peak by two months, and lessens by three to five months of age. This is sometimes referred to as “The Period of PURPLE Crying©”. It may occur for prolonged periods, more often in the late afternoon and evening.
Ways to Comfort your Baby
- Holdyour baby skin-to-skin on your chest. Your body warmth and heart sounds provide comfort, and may help your baby to settle.
- Watch for your baby’s early feeding cues, such as bringing hands to the mouth, or sucking movements of the lips. Sucking is very soothing. Offer feedings before your baby is overly hungry. Burp your baby often during feeding. The number of times a baby feeds each day can change with growth spurts.
- Breastfeeding mothers should consult with a Lactation Consultant or Public Health Nurse.
- Check your baby’s diaper; a clean diaper is usually more comfortable.
- Massage your baby. Using baby oil, gently apply pressure with your fingertips on your baby’s back from neck to bottom. Massage baby’s tummy using a clockwise motion.
- Offer something interesting for baby to see and hear. Babies like bright colours, music, faces, and voices. Soothing sounds like soft music, or even the noise of the dishwasher or vacuum may help.
- Watch for signs that your baby has had enough stimulation; hiccups, turning the head to one side, sneezing, or grimaces.
- Check your baby’s physical comfort. As a general rule, dress your baby in one more layer of clothing than you would need. Wetness at the back of baby’s neck means your baby is too warm.
- Provide gentle motion. Taking your baby for a walk, or a ride in the car or stroller, or rocking baby gently in your arms may help.
- You will be able to stop the crying sometimes, but not always.
- NEVER SHAKE YOUR BABY.
Responding quickly to crying will not spoil your baby. It helps them to feel that their world is safe and predictable.
Why is Shaking a Baby so Dangerous?
Shaking a baby can cause blindness, seizures, physical disabilities, learning disabilities or death.
When your baby will not stop crying, you may feel frustrated, angry, tired, and alone. If the crying becomes too frustrating, it is okay to put your baby down and take a break. Put your baby in a safe place, such as a crib, and take 15 minutes to calm yourself down. When you feel ready to cope, then go back and check on the baby.
Remind yourself, it is not your fault.
Call your doctor right away if:
- your baby is less than one month old, and acts sick
- baby has fever, vomiting, or diarrhea
- your baby’s cries are unusually shrill or intense or
- you are afraid that you might hurt your baby
Get help! Asking for help is a sign of strength. It is the best thing you can do for you and your baby. Caring for children is very demanding; all parents need help and support at times.
- Ask a trusted friend or family member to give you a short break. Be sure to inform them of the dangers of shaking a baby
- Attend a parent discussion or play group to talk with other parents.
- For professional advice and support, call the Family HEALTHline 705-743-1000
- If you would like to talk to a Public Health Nurse about raising children and grandchildren, please call the Family HEALTHline at 705-743-1000. Call us today!The Family HEALTHline:
- is a free and confidential service for parents, caregivers of young children, and health care providers.
- provides parenting information, consultation and referrals
- covers topics such as pregnancy, premature infants, growth and development, breastfeeding, nutrition, behavior, discipline, sleep, routines, dental care, safety, illness, immunization, and sexuality
- is available Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, however at other times you can always leave a message and we will get back to you the next business day.
The Family HEALTHline is also Peterborough County and City’s telephone line for children’s speech and language screening.
Telehealth Ontario is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-797-0000. (Link to
If you do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner you can contact Health Care Connect at 1-800-445-1822.
It is much more important to stay calm, than to stop the crying.
The Period of PURPLE Crying© is a new way to understand your baby’s crying and was developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.
The letters of PURPLE stand for:
P – Peak of crying; your baby may cry more each week. The most at two months, then less at three to five months.
U – Unexpected; crying can come and go and you don’t know why.
R – Resists Soothing; your baby may not stop crying no matter what you try.
P – Pain-like Face; a crying baby may look like they are in pain, even when they are not.
L – Long Lasting; crying can last as much as five hours a day, or more
E – Evening; your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening