October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The London Health and Science is using this opportunity to raise awareness for the “Period of Purple Crying.” This is a period of infancy, from 2 weeks old to 5 months old, where babies cry a little more than usual.
Campaign organizer, Jane Harrington says “we’ve been doing Click for Babies for the last 4 years, and [it’s] really an awareness campaign, where we have knitters from across the country knit purple baby hats for London Health and Science Center and Children’s Hospital, to raise awareness about abusive head trauma and the period of purple crying.”
She says the goal of this campaign is to prevent infant abuse, such as shaken baby syndrome, by educating parents that this period is normal, and giving tips on how to deal with it.
“If you are concerned about your baby, bring them in to Emergency department, but we want parents to understand that there is a normal crying pattern in young infants. It’s usually unexplained crying – you’ve changed them, you’ve fed them, and they just resist that soothing. It can sometimes last up to 5 hours at a time, which is a long time for a new mom or dad.”
She adds that the baby can sometimes have a pain like expression which is often cause for concern. During this time parents can often get frustrated, and Harrington explains some of the tips they offer on clickforbabies.org.
“Walk with them, drive around with them in their car seat. Walking away is something that a lot of parents don’t know they can do. Leave the child in a safe place like in their crib, and walk away for 10 minutes – it’s okay. Being able to call out to your resources like grandparents and caregivers – being able to reach out into the community and say that you’re frustrated and that you need some help. We really recommend that for parents, especially first time parents. This is a new situation for them and they need to know that there are things that they can do.”
Harrington adds that abusive head trauma is the number one cause of death in infants under the age of one, but luckily there hasn’t been a huge number of cases here in London, “the problem with shaken babies is that the cases that we do have, are severe, so their life long injuries are so severe, that their development changes and they may not be the child that you hoped to have.”
The LHSC is working with all local hospitals and birthing centers in the region, so that all new parents can get educated on the period of purple crying. They get a take home DVD, and can download an app that offers soothing tips. Harrington states that they are also working with the National Centre for Shaken Baby Syndrome to spread awareness across North America and adds that the Middlesex-London Health Unit and Prenatal and Healthy Babies program all promote the period of purple crying as well.
So far this year, they’ve received between 100 and 200 hats and Harrington says knitters are ready, ” we have a lot of knitters coming back from years previous, so we’ve been receiving hats for the last 3 or 4 weeks. Last year we received over 12,000 hats, and that’s amazing because we send those out across North America to those who may not have had a great response in their area.”
She adds, “we love the hats that we get, but we really want people to start talking about the period of purple crying, and understand that it’s normal – and we really just want to help new parents understand it. And this is one way we can get that information out there.”