New shaken baby program

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 1, January, February 2010, page(s) 39 News

Since 31 January 2009, every birthing hospital in BC has been providing new parents with the Period of PURPLE Crying program before discharge. The Period of PURPLE Crying is a new province-wide program that changes the way parents and caregivers are educated about normal infant crying and the dangers of shaken baby syndrome. 

The program provides educational information about the properties of early crying in normally developing infants and appropriate action steps that caregivers need to know. 

The educational component helps caregivers understand the normality of the frustrating properties of crying—even in babies with colic—and that, in almost every case, they will come to an end at about 5 months. Each of the letters in the word PURPLE refers to one of these properties:

P for Peak of Crying: Crying peaks during the second month, decreasing after that.
U for Unexpected: Crying comes and goes unexpectedly, for no apparent reason.
R for Resists Soothing: Crying continues despite all soothing efforts by caregivers.
P for Pain-like Face: Infants look like they are in pain, even when they are not.
L for Long Lasting: Crying can go on for 30 to 40 minutes, and longer.
E for Evening Crying: Crying occurs more in the late afternoon and evening.

The Period of PURPLE Crying is presented in two components that re­inforce each other: an 11-page booklet called “Did You Know Your Infant Would Cry Like This?” and a 10-minute DVD. Both are available in 10 languages. 

Since every family having a new baby in BC receives these program components, family practice physicians should have this information on hand for patients too. Family practice offices can get up to five complimentary sets of the program for their office, and physicians are encouraged to play the DVD in the waiting room if possible. 

To find out more about this program and view content specific to physicians, visit To acquire posters, pamphlets, and other resources, call 604 875-2000 ext. 5100 or e-mail
—Anoo Mammen, Ronald G. Barr, MD
Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome BC
BC Children’s Hospital