GHS Newborns Sport Purple "Hats from the Heart"
Child abuse prevention effort lauds the Period of Purple Crying
Purple newborn caps replaced the traditional pink and blue on the tiny heads of infants at Granville Medical Center recently. The hand-knitted caps, donated by a wide array of individual community knitters, are a way to remind parents about the normalcy of early infant crying and how to cope with it.
Marion Sharkany, one of the key organizers of the knitting project, is the past president of the NC Hospital Volunteers Association.She immediately jumped into action when she received the call to help.
“My infant daughter cried a lot – sometimes for hours at time. And even though it was decades ago that we brought her home from the hospital, I still remember the anxiety I felt with her inconsolable crying, the fears that I was a bad mother and the frustration that grew when I was unable to soothe her and didn’t know why. If my husband and I had understood the Period of Purple Crying, we would have felt more confident, relaxed, and happier as new parents.”
The program educates parents and other caregivers about a typical stage in early infancy that is frequently misunderstood. Frustration often accompanies normal increased early infant crying, which is a key trigger to the shaking. By changing expectations and social norms about infant crying, The Period of Purple Crying seeks to significantly reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries that occur when frustrated caregivers shake crying babies. The program also promotes infant/parent bonding, and other crucial parenting skills.
“Granville Medical Center implemented the Period of Purple Crying program in 2008 and has educated the parents of more than 500 newborns since then,” says Wendy Keeton, RN, who coordinates the program at GMC’s Birthing Center. “We encourage our new mothers to watch the video prior to their discharge home, and provide them with a copy to take home to show other family members, babysitters, and other caregivers.”
“Nurses from the hospital are enthusiastic about the program,” continued Ms. Keeton, “seeing what a difference it can make in the lives of both parents and infants. All mothers think they would never shake their babies, and of course most never do. But this information is helpful for everyone. It can be very frustrating trying to deal with a screaming infant. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to soothe them, so you just have to calm yourself down. It’s hard to do, but if you know what to expect, it makes it much easier to handle.”
The Purple program includes individual, in-hospital parent education and research-tested take-home tools; a Purple DVD and booklet to reinforce key messages so that parents understand this normal crying period in every infant’s life and how to cope with it.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is currently among the leading cause of child abuse deaths in the U.S. The Period of Purple Crying: Keeping Babies Safe in North Carolina is the largest and most comprehensive evidence-based shaken baby prevention initiative in the country. The project is a collaborative effort of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, The Center for Child and Family Health and the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center. For more information, please visit www.purplecryingnc.info.