SALT LAKE CITY — Every day infants across the country are shaken and abused because the person watching them doesn't know that early infant crying may be normal.
A group committed to educating young parents about what all babies go through during the first few months of life gathered Wednesday at the Anderson-Foothill Library to knit baby caps for the CLICK for Babies and the Period of PURPLE Crying Caps program.
CLICK stands for the clicking of knitting needles as the group typically knits baby caps to help raise prevention. The hats are traditionally purple to represent the period where babies turn purple while crying.
The letter P in purple stands for peak of crying. The CLICK for Babies website said a newborn may cry more each week, with the most being in the second month, and then cry less in months three and five.
The U stands for unexpected. A baby may cry and a parent won’t know why. R is for resists soothing; the second P is for pain-like face; and L is for long-lasting. A baby may cry as much as five hours a day or more. E is for evening, as a baby may cry more in late afternoon and evening.
"If we can normalize that crying and parents know it's OK to be frustrated, but it's not OK to shake your baby or abuse your infant," said Jamie Justice, international program coordinator for the Period of Purple Crying.
It’s estimated that between 600 and 1,400 American children suffer severe or fatal head trauma from shaken baby syndrome every year, according to ARC, an organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
CLICK for Babies organizers were hoping for 2,000 baby caps in 2013, but as the bags arrived, spilling purple knitwear, they discovered Utah volunteers had made more than 5,000.
Lynn Price told members of her church about the CLICK for Babies program, and several women knitted caps for the cause.
"Every time we read in the paper about a baby that's been shaken and injured, well, it just breaks your heart," Price said. "And anything we can do to help change that, I think we need to do."
Just last month, a Utah baby died of shaken baby syndrome. On Sept. 10, Tyler Ryan Geary was watching young Aliyah Faye Wild while the baby's mother, his girlfriend, was at work. Investigators believe he became frustrated with the child's crying, shook Aliyah and threw her onto a bed.
Aliyah was taken to Davis Hospital and Medical Center unresponsive and in critical condition and was transferred to Primary Children's Medical Center. She died on Sept. 17.
Volunteers added their talents to help raise awareness. They logged on to the CLICK for Babies website and chose a newborn size baby cap pattern or used one of their own. They purchased purple yarn. The cap didn’t have to be all purple, but it needed to be at least 50 percent purple. They started knitting or crocheting and brought them to a drop-off site.
Suzette Cannon, owner of the Wool Cabin, said she makes the initiative a year-round commitment.
"We do a lot of baby hats in our stores, and so it was the perfect fit to have our store be a drop-off place," Cannon said. "And then I told them, 'I'd love to offer a discount for people that wanted to buy purple yarn.'"
Once volunteers attach labels and separate the caps based on gender, the caps go to participating hospitals.
"As nurses are educating families about the normal infant crying, they are also given these purple caps to remind parents that it is this normal period in a child's life," Justice said.
For more information about the CLICK for Babies, what normal infant crying is and how parents can cope, go to www.clickforbabies.org.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc
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