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How to Help Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome with Your Knitting

Join with Click for Babies and help prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome through education about the Period of Purple Crying

Click for Babies

Many of you know that I have two daughters. The older was born in 2000, and the younger was born in 2006.

You may notice that there’s a fairly significant age difference between my children. This was not by accident. The fact is that, though my older daughter is a delight to be around now, for the first 4 years or so of her life, she was an extremely challenging baby.

I often joke “it took me 5 years to work up the nerve to have another baby after my first!” Only I’m not really joking…

My lovely daughter cried all the time as a baby. Unless I was holding her. This basically meant I had to hold her nonstop. If I tried to put her down for a nap, it didn’t happen. I could barely even feed myself because if I set her down just to make myself food, she cried.

The only time she fell asleep during the day was when she was in a car. If I was lucky, she would stay asleep for at least a little while after I took her out of the car.

“Sleep when the baby sleeps” was a joke during this time.

It wasn’t until a few months into her life — when my mother bought me a baby swing — that I finally got some relief. She would fall asleep in the swing, and I could finally not have to hold her all the time.

(Of course, I didn’t keep her in the swing all the time, so I still had to hold her the rest of the time. Which presented its own challenges.)

Baby Challenges, the Period of Purple Crying, and Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken Baby Syndrome

I tell you this because if there’s one thing I understand, it’s the challenges and frustrations of parenting an infant. I wish I’d known then what I know now about the Period of Purple Crying.

The Period of Purple Crying is actually closely related to Shaken Baby Syndrome. You’re probably familiar with the latter, as Americans now know pretty well that shaking a baby can be deadly.

Contrary to frequent public opinion, Shaken Baby Syndrome is not always the act of a careless parent who doesn’t know better. Just as often, it happens when a loving parent, despondent over his or her inability to soothe a disconsolate infant, shakes the baby out of despair.

What many don’t know is that all baby mammals, not just human beings, go through something called a “purple period.” During this period, babies cry more often, especially in the evening. They are also often either resistant to soothing or are not always soothed by the same methods every time.

In human beings, the “purple period” lasts from about 2 weeks of age to 3 to 4 months.

The good news is that while every baby goes through this period (though some babies cry far more than others during this period), it DOES end. This is especially important to share with new parents, who may feel not only helpless but also as though they have failed.

I personally remember this feeling very well. Once I was changing my daughter’s diaper, and she was screaming. My mom happened to be nearby, and I said to her, “I feel like I’m torturing her!”

What a relief it would have been to know that her crying was completely normal!

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Click for Babies and Purple Period Awareness

Shaken Baby Syndrome

This is where Click for Babies comes in.

Click for Babies wants to raise awareness of the Period of Purple Crying. Knitters and crocheters can help by knitting or crocheting a purple baby cap that can be distributed to newborn babies and their parents. These caps not only remind of the hazards of shaking a baby, but also help to educate parents about normal infant crying.

Shaken Baby Syndrome

“Click for Babies” refers to the sound of the clicking of knitting needles, although crocheters are, of course, equally welcome to participate.

The Click for Babies website offers free patterns, guidelines, and places to send caps. Many states have their own Click for Babies programs for distributing caps to hospitals. For those who live in other states, there is a national Click for Babies office where caps can be sent to.

Note: if you send to a state program, ALWAYS contact the branch first to ensure that they are still accepting hats. Sometimes states must stop collecting hats (running out of storage space is one common reason), so be sure to check first.

Note that Click for Babies collects donations from April to September of every year. They do not have the capacity to store donations, so if you knit outside this time frame, hold off on sending your donation(s) until April, and do not send past September.

Click for Babies encourages sharing of the program through social media; they have Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages that can be used to spread the word.

Wouldn’t you love to help prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome just by knitting or crocheting? Click for Babies gives you a great opportunity to do just that.

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    1. Hello Karen, you don’t have to use any particular patterns, but you do need to follow the guidelines at the Click for Babies website. On this page: https://www.clickforbabies.org/knit1/#start you’ll find all the guidelines you need. (Be sure to click the spot that says “Click here to view the crafting guidelines” to read through them all–they’re very important!)

  1. I’m 74 and my first daughter was born in Turkey. Being US military she was born in a base hospital. Our American pediatrician was six months out of Med school and looked like he wanted to cry after our six week checkup turned both my baby and me into waterworks. His only suggestion? Buy a pacifier—my daughter constantly spit it across the room, she hated it. She cried almost all the time, and slept 20mins at a time around the clock. Even after she got older she didn’t sleep through the night. Sleep deprivation became my life. I know your pain and the pain of everyone confronted with this situation. The complete craziness and sheer desperation that can overtake one after walking and bouncing a crying baby for hours and hours during the night. My second daughter is five years and three days younger because it took that long to get sane, and she also finally slept through the night at age five! As one might imagine I woke up and ran into her room to make sure she was breathing!! This “purple time” of infant crying lasted over a 24 hrs cycle, 7 days a week, for roughly a year. This educational effort is well worth some time.

    1. It really is very well worth it! And this period in a child’s life is, obviously, not one that’s easily forgotten. I know I certainly will never forget how frustrated I became with my own daughter’s inconsolable crying.