Purple hats help raise awareness of shaken baby syndrome

Goal of hat is to educate parents on period known as PURPLE Crying

DETROIT - Queen Gray of Detroit is just 3-days-old.  Today, she and her parents are leaving Hutzel Hospital with a special souvenir.  It's a purple hat to help remind everyone that babies cry, sometimes a lot.

"I think that's a good awareness program to educate the people who are becoming parents about how to handle stress and how to handle the crying, and that it's okay, and nothing is necessarily wrong with the baby," said Laveta Kendrix, Queen's mom.

"We know that no parent plans to shake or harm their baby.  So it's important that we prepare them," said Marci Simon-Burrell, a clinical nurse specialist at Hutzel. 

Simon-Burrell educates new parents about something called the Period of PURPLE Crying.  It's the normal period of crying most babies go through, but which comes as a surprise to many new parents and caregivers.

PURPLE is an acronym:

The P stands for "peak."  Babies will cry more each week, until they hit their peak, often at two months.

U is for "unexpected" crying.

R stands for "resists soothing."

P is for a "pain-like face."  Babies may look like they're in pain, even when they aren't.

L is for "long-lasting."  Crying can last up to five hours at a time.

E is for "evening," when most babies cry more.

Many local parents are being educated about the Period of PURPLE Crying and coping mechanisms through videos and other education efforts, thanks to the Children's Trust Fund, which received a grant from The Jewish Fund to finance the campaign.

"It is a phase that all children go through, and eventually it will stop," said Ama Larsen of The Children's Fund.  "Whatever you do, do not shake your baby."

It's a message they hope to spread one hat at a time.  In the month of November, every baby born at Hutzel, Sinai-Grace, and Children's Hospital will go home with a purple hat.

This morning, the non-profit group LeeLee Hats of Windsor, Ontario, delivered 800 hats.  They're all handmade, using donated yarn, by volunteer knitters of all ages.

"We have kids as young as three and ladies and gentlemen as old as 85 that have been making hats," said Tracy Summerfield, co-founder of LeeLee Hats.  "It gives them the chance to do a craft that they love, but have a purpose behind it."

Summerfield hopes the purple hats will help raise awareness of the dangers of shaken baby syndrome "It's not just one month of the year.  This is every day, every hour, that needs to be promoted, because this is such an important cause for baby's health," said Summerfield.

The local hospitals welcome the hats and the opportunity to spread the word about the Period of PURPLE Crying beyond the hospital walls.

"The purple hats increase awareness in the community about what we're trying to do to reduce shaken baby syndrome," said Simon-Burrell. 

Queen's mom Laveta said, it's an important lesson for all parents. "It's a good little keepsake, to remind you at times that everything will be okay, the crying will eventually stop."

To learn more about the Period of PURPLE Crying please visit purplecrying.info

To learn more about becoming a volunteer knitter or donating yarn, call Shelly Najor, community outreach coordinator for the Children's Trust Fund at (248) 396-0508 or drop off yarn, caps or donations to Period of PURPLE Crying Program, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute -- IMH Program, Room 203, 71 East Ferry, Detroit 48202. 

Hat patterns are available at clickforbabies.org

You can also visit LeeLee Hats Facebook page.

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