Mid Coast Hospital Collects Caps for Infant Abuse Awareness

By Alex Lear/The Forecaster

Purple infant caps abounded at Mid Coast Hospital on Nov.18, part of a campaign to prevent infant abuse. More than 240 caps have been knitted since summer and donated to the hospital through Midcoast Maine Community Action’s Families CAN! Program.

The program offers information on child abuse and neglect issues, along with prevention, and is part of a national Click for Babies: Period of PURPLE Crying campaign. The initiative, named for the clicking of knitting needles, brings knitters and crocheters together to create and donate caps for infants.

The “PURPLE” period encompasses a child’s life from about two weeks of age to three or four months, when a baby goes through increased crying. While clickforbabies.org notes that this level is considered normal, it can be a trigger for abuse by frustrated parents or caregivers.

PURPLE stands for elements of a baby’s behavior during this period:

P is for Peak crying.

U is for Unexpected (when crying can come and go without explanation).

R is for Resists soothing (when nothing seems to help the baby stop crying).

P is for Pain-like face (a baby may look like it is in pain, even when not).

L is for Long-lasting (up to five hours a day or more).

E is for Evening (when crying is more likely to occur).

Parents of newborns receive both a purple cap—donated by knitters around the Mid Coast recruited by Familes CAN!—and an educational DVD that delivers the PURPLE message.

“Maine was the first state in the country to have every birthing hospital on-board with educating parents about this,” said Eileen Delaney, director of Mid Coast Hospital’s maternity care department. “And that particular year we did see a decrease in (infant) head trauma.”

She noted that while the normal instinct is to pick up an inconsolable baby, often it is better to leave the child in the crib, close the door, walk away, and take a break for a few minutes, and then go back to check on the child.

Delaney said babies at that stage are “physically, neurologically, and emotionally disorganized,” prompting their intense level of crying.

For more information, contact Marie Martin, family educator at Families CAN!, 442-7963, or marie.martin@mmcacorrp.org. To donate caps, call Eileen Delaney at 373-6527.

Published by The Forecaster, Nov. 22, 2011