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This baby appears very happy with the purple cap provided by New Hampshire Children's Trust. The organization distributes purple caps to newborns at 12 hospitals across the state. The caps promote awareness of the Children's Trust program for dealing with crying infants. (COURTESY)

Babies looking good, staying safe in purple caps

MANCHESTER - Purple is a popular color for newborns.

That's not a pediatric fashion statement but rather an effort to curb infant abuse by reminding parents to take a moment when they start to feel overwhelmed by a crying baby.

Volunteers have been knitting and crocheting since April, generating more than 5,000 purple caps to donate to New Hampshire newborns as part of the "CLICK for Babies" campaign sponsored by the Utah-based National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. The color is for the "Period of PURPLE Crying," an initiative to remind parents that it is normal for infants to cry - and that it will pass.

"We've heard story after story - parents who are at their wit's end, looked back, put that baby down in the crib and walked away," said Ryan Steinbeigle, director of development at the NCSBS, touting the initiative's success. "There's been so many stories from parents telling us things like that."

The purple caps serve as both a reminder to parents and a way for people to feel they are making a contribution in an effort to protect babies. The "click" in the campaign name is for the sound of knitting needles, and there has been a whole lot of clicking in the Granite State since the New Hampshire Children's Trust announced the program in April with a goal of 1,000 caps.

The goal was way short of the response, which generated about 5,000 caps, each attached with a sticker listing the Period of PURPLE Crying program.

"It's been amazingly popular. We were really just stunned," Maria Doyle, training and evaluation director with the New Hampshire Children's Trust, said of the initiative's success. "I have to order more stickers."

In addition to the donated knit hats, parents are given program materials at 12 participating hospitals in New Hampshire. Distribution started Nov. 1 and will continue until the supply runs out, Doyle said. The 2013 hat drive will click off again in April.

"So often with child abuse and preventing it, we know what it takes, but having an actionable step isn't always so easy," Doyle said. "This gave people something they could to do about it, and boy did they."

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PURPLE is an acronym for general characteristics parents should remember.

-- Peak: Crying generally increases each week after birth and peaks at 2 months, then decreases at 3 to 5 months.

-- Unexpected: Babies will cry with no explanation.

-- Resists soothing: Methods don't seem to work no matter what parents try.

-- Pain-like face: The baby looks like he or she is in pain, even though pain might not be an issue.

-- Long-lasting: Crying can go for five hours or more a day.

-- Evening: Crying might increase in late afternoon or evening hours.

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome's Steinbeigle said New Hampshire is one of 10 states participating in the "CLICK" campaign. Three Canadian provinces are on board as well.

Steinbeigle expects the number to grow as more states and hospitals adopt the Period of PURPLE Crying initiative. Everywhere it's been added, he said, the CLICK campaign has been wildly successful with getting people to knit and donate the signature purple caps.

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"Many knit already and are looking for a cause to support. What a great thing to create awareness about," Steinbeigle said. "'All I have to do is knit, and hopefully I'm preventing abuse of infants in the future.' It's been amazing to us how many people get excited and motivated by this project."



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