Infant Crying
Soothing Techniques
Safer Sleep

Infant Crying:
A normal part of healthy development

Period of Increased Crying Graph

All babies cry—it’s how they communicate! Learning how to interpret your new baby’s cries takes time.

Just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, infant crying increases. It starts at around 2 weeks of age, peaks when the baby is 8 to 9 weeks old, and eases off around 4 or 5 months.

This phase of increased crying is a normal, developmental stage that all infants go through. It is referred to as “PURPLE Crying” and it does end.

The amount of time that infants can cry also varies. It can be as little as 20 min a day or as much as a total of 5 to 6 hours a day. This is also normal and means your baby is developing normally.


Crying, especially inconsolable crying, is the most common trigger for shaking and physical abuse, which can cause long term disabilities or death.

Action steps

PURPLE crying describes the period of time when babies cry the most. Babies vary widely in the amount, length and timing of crying, but all babies will go through this period. Crying can be distressing and challenging for parents and caregivers. Crying, especially inconsolable crying, is the most common trigger for shaking and physical abuse.

Indigenous mother with her baby
Carry, comfort, walk and talk with the infant

Try these tricks with your baby. Responding to your infants crying when it starts can reduce fussiness and crying sometimes.

Baby sleeping in crib.
It is okay to walk away

You can put your infant in a safe place and walk away and take a few minutes to calm yourself before you go back and try again.

Never shake or hurt an infant

There is never a circumstance when it is okay to shake or hurt an infant, no matter how much they’re crying.


There are ways to soothe your baby that may work some of the time but not all the time. Learn more about soothing techniques. To support newborn families in BC, the Period of PURPLE Crying program is used. Learn more about the program.

Learn more


There are ways to soothe your baby that may work some of the time but not all the time.

Learn More

Period of PURPLE Crying Program

To support newborn families in BC, the Period of PURPLE Crying program is used

Learn More

What is PURPLE?

The Period of PURPLE Crying® (PURPLE) is an education intervention program that is delivered to all parents/caregivers of newborns in BC. PURPLE takes a normal child development approach by helping parents and caregivers understand the frustrating features of crying in normal infants that can lead to shaking or abuse. The program has been operating in BC for over 12 years and was developed in consultation with THI-CM/SBS specialists, paediatricians/nurses, and parents/parent advocate focus groups.

The universal delivery of the PURPLE program has been associated with a 35% decrease in Traumatic Head Injury - Child Maltreatment/Shaken Baby Syndrome (THI-CM/SBS) hospitalization rates in British Columbia1. Learn more about our research on our Research page.

Image showing the Period of Purple Crying acronym
PEAK of crying

Your baby may cry more each week, the most in month 2, then less in months 3-5


Crying can come and go and you don't know why

RESISTS Soothing

Your baby may not stop crying no matter what you try


A crying baby may look like they are in pain, even when they are not

LONG Lasting

Crying can last as much as 5 hours a day, or more


Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening

The program provides information on Infant crying, managing frustration, alternative soothing methods, and coping strategies for parents/caregivers and the dangers of shaking a baby, to increase knowledge, change behaviours, and reduce the incidence of THI-CM/SBS.

What’s the difference between PURPLE crying and colic crying?

PURPLE crying describes the period of time when babies cry the most. 10-15% of babies are considered to be colic criers (high criers).


Colic crying is a term used to describe high levels of crying in an otherwise healthy baby. Colic crying is crying that happens for no apparent reason, lasts for more than 3 hours per day,more than ≥3 days per week, in an otherwise healthy infant under 3 months of age.

Colic crying, although normal, can be especially distressing. It can look like: 

  • Intense crying that seem more like screaming or an expression of pain
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Extreme fussiness even after crying has diminished
  • Skin flushing or blushing
  • Body tension such as stiffened legs and arms, clenched fists, arched back, etc.

This is still normal! Crying is distressing and challenging for parents and caregivers. Not all babies will be colic/high criers, but all babies go through the Period of PURPLE Crying

Inconsolable infant crying is the number one trigger for shaking.

PURPLE Materials

Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome BC (PSBSBC) uses PURPLE materials to deliver educational information about normal but increased infant crying to parents and caregivers. Materials have been designed and approved by pediatricians, public health nurses, and child development experts.

Image showing the PURPLE materials which includes the mobile app, infographic, and booklet.

Resources and education are provided to all parents/caregivers of newborn infants in BC in maternity hospitals. Your maternity nurse will talk to you about PURPLE crying and will provide an information booklet on PURPLE crying, soothing, coping strategies that will contain either;

1. A unique code for the PURPLE crying mobile app is located on the front of the booklet for access to:
  • Information, videos and resources on crying, soothing, coping, infant safety, and self-care
  • A personalized baby tracker for weight, height, crying, sleeping, diapers, feeding, pumping, and Canadian vaccine schedule

Want to learn more about the PURPLE Crying App? Watch the instructional video.

2. A DVD with videos on crying, coping, and soothing in your first language if you received a book in a language other than English, Punjabi, or Cantonese.

If you delivered your baby in a maternity hospital or had a home birth in BC, you will likely have already received PURPLE education and materials. If you don’t remember or didn’t receive one, you can contact your local public health/primary care health unit or midwife. 

Infographic on PURPLE crying


PSBSBC developed an infographic to support second-time parents and those whose first language is not available in PURPLE materials. Development of this resource was done in consultation with maternity/public health nurses. Download the crying infographic PDF and use it as an easy reference for reminders about the key messages about PURPLE. 

  • Babies can cry a lot and increased infant crying in normal
  • Suggest soothing strategies
  • Negative feelings around crying are ok and common 
  • If the crying gets too frustrating, it is OK to put the baby in a safe place and take a break to calm down
  • Infant crying is not the fault of the caregiver or the baby, and the crying will come to an end
  • Where to get additional supports
  • Dangers of shaking
  • Infographic is available in Simplified Chinese, Farsi, Urdu, Arabic with a link to the resource page somewhere that would be great.


  1. Barr, R. G., Barr, M., Rajabali, F., Humphreys, C., Pike, I., Brant, R., Hlady, J., Colbourne, M., Fujiwara, T., & Singhal, A. (2018). Eight-year outcome of implementation of abusive head trauma prevention. Child abuse & neglect, 84, 106–114


Being a parent or caregiver to a new infant is amazing! But it can also feel overwhelming, scary, and frustrating. 

Experiencing negative emotions because of a crying infant is normal. All parents and caregivers will feel this way at some point, but it is how you manage those feelings that matters.

Remember that crying is the number one trigger for shaking an infant.

We have all seen beautiful images online of the well-dressed, sleeping, or smiling infant. But that is not always the reality!

We know that our baby will cry, but believe that we will be able to soothe them when the time comes. What often happens, though, is that soothing only works some of the time, not all of the time. Sometimes your baby will cry and cry and cry and there is nothing you can do. Sometimes your baby can’t stop crying, but it does not mean that they are a “bad” baby, nor does it mean you are a “bad” parent.

You may have any or all of these negative feelings: fear, anxiety, helplessness, frustration, anger, and stress. These feelings are normal.

Some things that parents have said over the years: (NCSBS)

That's one of the worst things a father can hear is your newborn daughter crying bloody murder and you can't do anything to help.

When I hold my baby I should be able to be the super dad or be her security blanket, and it hasn't always been the case.

I always thought that I could calm her down, even if nobody else could, I could, no matter what. I'm the mom, that's my job.

You feel like this is your child and your bond and that bond should be able to cure anything, but sometimes it doesn't.

Plan ahead

Knowing and practicing ways to calm yourself will help you through the challenging times now and in the future.

Remember: no one can calm a crying baby all the time.

When a baby is fussy and won’t stop crying, you may need to take a break. This is normal. If you can, call someone you can trust to come over to watch your baby while you go for a walk, take a nap, or run an errand. If someone else is not available, it is perfectly OK to put your baby down in a safe place (crib, bassinet etc.) and walk away and take a break in another room for a few minutes.

Follow these 3 steps if the crying is overwhelming:

Carry, comfort, walk and talk with the infant

Try these tricks with your baby. Responding to your infants crying when it starts can reduce fussiness and crying sometimes.

Baby sleeping in crib.
It is okay to walk away

Never shake or hurt an infant

There is never a circumstance when it is okay to shake or hurt an infant, no matter how much they’re crying.


Self-care is important for your mental and physical health. It can help you have the resilience to get through the crying. The NEST acronym can be helpful to remember what is important. 


Drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy, balanced diet

Try to eat a variety of whole foods, such as vegetables and fruits (including dark green and orange vegetables), whole grains (like oats, wild rice, whole wheat pasta), and protein-rich food (eggs, nuts and seeds, fish and shellfish, beans, peas, and lentils, lean red meats, including wild game and lower fat dairy products such as milk and yoghurt, fortified soy beverages, tofu, soybeans, and other soy products).

Learn more about nutrition during the postpartum period in Canada’s Food Guide.


It’s important to care for yourself as well as your infant. Engaging in physical activity is a great way to care for your body and your mind. Taking the baby for a walk outside is a great way to get started. Many community centres and studios offer postpartum and baby-friendly fitness classes. 

Learn more about physical activity after baby: 

Sleep and Rest

Poor sleep quality in both mothers and infants during the postpartum period has been associated with feelings of depression.1 It may be challenging when juggling competing priorities such as caring for your baby, social life, and housework, but try to rest or sleep when your infant sleeps.

For tips on sleep, visit HealthLinkBC.

Mother rocks to sleep her baby at home.She is reading book while she rocks to sleep.

Time for yourself & reaching out

It might feel impossible, but it is important to make time for yourself. Take breaks for yourself when you can. Do something you enjoy, such as reading, walking, crafting, cooking, or practicing mindfulness techniques. You can do this when baby is sleeping or if you have a trusted person you can ask for help (e.g., partner, family, friends). Not everyone has people readily available to support them. The Nurse-Family Partnership is a free public health program for BC women under 24-years-old who are having their first baby. The program ensures that mom and baby receive support during pregnancy and up to two years of age. 

Visit HealthLinkBC for more information on the Nurse-Family Partnership.


  1. Ou, C. H., Hall, W. A., Rodney, P., & Stremler, R. (2022). Correlates of Canadian mothers' anger during the postpartum period: a cross-sectional survey. BMC pregnancy and childbirth, 22(1), 163. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-022-04479-4
Young father and mother holding their newborn baby son

Soothing Techniques

All of the soothing techniques can be done when a baby is not yet crying and a great way to bond with your baby.

A lot of times when a baby is crying, it can mean they are hungry, tired, or wet. Breastfeeding, if you are able to, is a good way to feed and bond with your baby. If you have tried to feed your baby, settle them down for a nap, or changed their diaper, and they are still fussy, there are other soothing activities you can try:

Baby being carried over mom's shoulder

Changing Positions

  • Try picking your baby up or putting the on your shoulder
  • Your baby can get a “new view” of the world, receive eye contact and the body contact with your baby can be soothing


  • Skin-to-skin contact is a wonderful way to bond with and comfort your baby
  • Holding a baby close and snuggling with them can be calming
A dad playing guitar while baby is in mom's lap


  • It can be soothing to repeat comforting sounds, sights, touches, or smells
  • Notice how almost all lullabies have repeating parts either in the words or tunes or both


This occurs when a sound, sight, or touch is repeated in a rhythmic pattern, similar to when a caregiver exaggerates certain parts of a sentence when speaking to a baby

Mother carrying baby infront of fan

White Noise

  • White noise mimics the sound a baby hears while in the womb and can help them to calm down
  • Examples of white noise include sounds from a fan, hairdryer, rushing water. Free white noise recordings are on YouTube


Going for a walk with your baby in a stroller or carrier, going for a drive, or even swaying gently while holding them can be comforting

Storytime on the playmat with mother and baby in an indoor setting

Involving Many Sensations

  • Babies use many different sensations to experience the world, such as sounds, sights, touches and smells
  • Using more than one at a type (reading a book to your baby while they're on your lap) can be soothing

Human Sights, Sounds and Smells

Human interaction is important to human babies. Studies have confirmed that a human voice (compared to non-human sounds) and human figures (compared to objects) are soothing to babies

It’s important to remember that some things work some of the time, but nothing works all of the time.

If you have tried everything you can but your baby continues to cry, and you feel yourself getting frustrated, the best thing you can do is to put the baby down in a safe place and walk away to take a break. Take a few minutes to calm yourself and take a break before you check on your baby.


The safest place for an infant while you take a break is on their back in a Health Canada approved crib or bassinet. Alternative safe sleep environments include baskets/bassinets, drawers, wash tubs, and boxes.

Safer Sleep

There are a number of things you can do to ensure your baby and you get a good quality night sleep and stay safe while doing so. The following can reduce the risk of sudden and unexpected sleep-related death.

Baby in a blue blanket sleeping

Tips for Parents

Sleeping Location

  • Put your baby to sleep on their back for every sleep, whether it's naptime or nighttime.
  • Use a firm mattress made for babies, with no bumper pads, pillows, heavy blankets, comforters, quilts, or toys.
  • The safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own crib, cradle, or bassinet when at home or travelling.
  • Plan ahead when travelling, and make sure there is a safe sleep surface for your baby. 

Other examples of other safe sleep surfaces include: a basket, drawer on floor, washtub, box, or carton. More information can be found on Health Canada’s website.

Breastfeeding as much as possible

  • Breastfeeding helps boost a baby’s immune system and is a preventative factor in reducing sudden and unexpected sleep-related infant death.
  • Breastfeeding can be challenging, and may not be for everyone. For help with breastfeeding, speak with your doctor, registered midwife, public health nurse, doula, or local breastfeeding support group.

Be Smoke / Alcohol and drug free

  • Smoking increases your baby’s risk of sleep-related death. 
  • Quitting can be hard, but being smoke-free during pregnancy and keeping your home smoke-free before and after birth can help prevent sleep-related infant death. For information on how to quit smoking, visit: www.quitnow.ca.
  • Free, confidential information and telephone support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service 1-800-663-1441 (toll-free in B.C.) or 604-660-9382 (in the Lower Mainland)

Avoid overheating

  • The temperature of the room should be comfortable for an adult, An overheated baby has a higher risk of infant sleep-related death. Your baby is warm enough when your baby’s head is warm. A well-fitted sleep sack, sleeper, or light blanket should be all that is needed to keep your baby warm. Hats and swaddling are not needed. It is safest for your baby not to be swaddled.

Share a room with your baby

  • For the first 6 months, have your baby sleep on a separate surface in the same room where you sleep. Sharing a room helps protect your baby against sleep-related infant death, and it is a safer sleeping arrangement than sharing a bed.
Crib infographic

Safer Sleep Tips

Download our safer sleep tips below as a quick reference for creating a safe sleep environment for infants.

Definition of Bedsharing: bedsharing happens when a baby shares the same sleep surface as a parent or caregiver.

It is normal for babies to feed often during the night. As a result, some parents find themselves bedsharing for easy access or for personal and cultural reasons. If you are thinking about sharing a bed with your baby, there are some things you can do to make it a safe sleep environment.

The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is on their own safe sleep surface in your room.

Put your baby on their back

  • It is safest for babies to sleep on their back. If your baby rolls onto their tummy while sleeping, gently place them back on their back.

Place mattress on the floor

  • To reduce the risk of falls, the mattress should be on the floor and away from walls.
  • Ensure there is space around the bed so your baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the wall or bedside table.
  • Make sure the mattress is firm and clean (no waterbeds, pillow tops, feather beds, air mattresses, or sagging mattresses).

Baby is far away from any pillows, duvets, and heavy blankets

  • These items can increase a baby's chance of suffocation and entanglement.
  • Use only a lightweight cotton baby blanket on your baby. If either adult has long hair, ensure it is tied back so that it can’t get tangled around the baby’s neck.

Baby is able to move freely and is not swaddled.

  • Baby should be able to move freely.
  • Swaddling can restrict a baby's movements and put them at increased risk.
  • Swaddled babies can get stuck on their stomachs and be unable to move into a safer position if they roll over.

Baby sleeps on the outside of the bed, instead of between adults.

  • If there are two adults in the bed, ensure that the baby sleeps on the outside of the bed, instead of between adults. Both adults need to be aware that the baby is in the bed and be comfortable with this decision.

Baby and adult(s) are the only people on the sleep surface.

  • Ensure that no other children or pets share the baby’s sleep surface.

Baby is not left alone in an adult bed.

  • Adult beds are not designed to keep babies safe.
There is a lot of advice online and advertising for fee-based services about sleep training. There is no evidence that sleep-training programs are safe for infants less than six months of age.

Your health care provider can help you develop a safer sleep plan for your baby. 

For more information on Safer Sleep strategies, check out this
resource from Healthlink BC