Menorah Medical Center
November 29, 2011

by Linda Friedel | Reprinted courtesy of KC Nursing News

From left Kathy Jackson, RNC, MSN, director of Family Birthing Center, Melanie Schleininger, RNC, BSN, and Gina Shay-Zapien, MSN, ARNP, RNC, CNS-BC of Menorah Medical Center, participated in an awareness program called the ‘Period of Purple Crying.’ Newborns wear purple hats home to remind parents that infant crying is normal, even for extended periods.

Several area hospitals have taken the “Period of Purple Crying” campaign to a new level.

Employees from Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., and Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth, Kan. hand-knitted and crocheted purple newborn caps to remind parents that a crying newborn is normal.

The campaign, coordinated by the Kansas Children’s Service League, includes sending a DVD home with parents and their newborns. Michelle Hunget, director of the Providence Family Care Center, said the statewide campaign is aimed at educating new parents and the public that the first six months of a baby’s life are when newborns cry most often.

“It’s very important to let parents know it’s perfectly normal for their baby to cry during this time, and to give them suggestions for soothing their baby, as well as letting them know it’s OK to seek additional help if they become frustrated,” she said. “The campaign’s ultimate goal is to prevent shaken baby syndrome and infant abuse. The hats are to help raise awareness among caregivers that it’s never OK to shake a baby in frustration. Each hat is tagged with a reminder of that message.”

The hats from Providence and Saint John Hospitals were made by a group of Kansas City, Kan. volunteers called Missions for Newborns. Two members of the Providence Family Care Center staff, Roselia Murillo, Spanish language interpreter, and Linda Riley, RN and staff nurse, have also made hats for the hospital’s newborns as part of this initiative.

For Judith McGhee, the leader of the group knitting the purple hats for babies at Providence and Saint John, this project is a labor of love.

“Not everyone gets off to a good start in life,” McGhee said. “This is our way of letting these new parents know that someone cares about their baby and is our way of giving back to our community.”

Melanie Schleininger, RN in the newborn nursery at Menorah Medical Center, said employees from several departments, including the family birthing center, mother baby and the anesthetic units joined the project to knit and crochet 147 purple hats.

“I think everybody involved really enjoyed it,” Schleininger said. “They think it was fun.”

Schleininger said the hospital sends a “Period of Purple Crying” DVD home with each new parent and encourages them to watch the video in the hospital before they leave. The video lets parents know that crying in newborns is normal and that crying up to five hours a day is normal for 2-week olds. It offers ways for parents to comfort their infants and lets parents understand that it is never acceptable to shake a baby.

“It’s normal phenomenon,” Schleininger said. “They didn’t realize it was a development thing with newborns.”

Schleininger said she crocheted 80 caps for the project. She took 10 days of disability to heal from knee surgery, saying the handwork kept her occupied.

“It was a fun project,” she said. “I was glad I could be involved in it while I was home lounging.”