Knitting purple hats for newborns: 'It's just part of being a baby'

PORTLAND, Ore. - Bringing home a new baby may be one of the happiest times in your life.

Yet if you ask any new parent, it can also be frustrating and exhausting, especially when your baby won't stop crying.

There are some cases where people react violently to the crying, shaking their babies, which can result in death. To raise awareness of this problem, hospitals across the country are distributing purple hats to teach parents about the period of purple crying.

Randall Children's Hospital is trying to distribute the handmade hats to 8,000 families before they leave the hospital.

Janet Clemens works with a group of women who share this small act of kindness.

"We have fun, we talk about all kinds of things, we work on projects such as this," said Clemens.

The ladies, many of them mothers, grandmothers and aunts, meet at Nitro Knitters every week to make as many newborn hats as they can. Each hat a symbol; bringing awareness to shaken baby syndrome.

"We are all very fortunate in our lives and those who need help, we should help," said Clemens.

The finished hats will be given to families in more than 40 hospitals and public health clinics in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

"Oregon is one of the leaders to implement this program, nationally," Pediatrician Dan Leonhardt said o their generosity. "We hope with this program, parents are more educated about the crying itself and more educated about what to do with it and deal with it when it happens."

Dr. Leonhardt calls this the period of purple crying. It usually peeks at 2-5 months of age when babies might cry for no reason at all.

He says some parents get so frustrated they physically abuse their babies to quiet them.

"In a lot of circumstances there's really none of those things wrong, it's just part of being a baby, that they cry and can't be soothed," said Dr. Leonhardt. "It's OK to be tired, fatigued, frustrated - even angry at yourself or your baby because they're crying. Those emotions are normal."

Randall Children's Hospital is collecting these hats by fall. If you're a knitter and would like to help out, the deadline to donate these hats is the end of September. Volunteers can find more information on patterns and designs online.

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