Guilford County, N.C. - More than 850 infants die from abuse or neglect every year in this country. That's one reason why hospitals are being more proactive, and even talking to parents about stress while the baby is still in the womb. News 2 started digging into this subject after a two week old baby in High Point was allegedly killed when his father punched him in the face.
Every parent who takes a prenatal class at Cone Health gets a purple knit cap for their baby. The hats symbolize "purple crying." It's a term to describe times when a baby cries uncontrollably during the first few months of life.
"There are times where nothing you do helps the baby. Rocking. You feed him or her. You burp them. You change the diaper. You rock them. You walk the floor. They still want to cry and scream and act like they're in pain even though they're not and you're just at your wits end and don't know what to do next," Cone Health Nurse Melissa Queen said.
The message is simple, but tough to accept: Crying is normal. It's ok. When your child screams or cries, you want to comfort him or her. However, nurses tell WFMY News 2 that parents have to take care of themselves, too. Leave the baby in a safe place, like a crib. Then, take a fifteen minute break.
"You really just don't know what the baby wants. You try to do all these things to figure out what the baby wants and you just aren't really sure. Sometimes the baby doesn't even know what they really want," Queen said.
The Guilford County Department of Social Services said abuse and neglect rates are higher for younger parents because teens and young adults don't always have the coping skills they need.
"Neglect is much higher than abuse as far as maltreatment of children. The long-term ramifications of the neglect of children can be just as damaging," Guilford County DSS spokesperson Steve Hayes said.
Before every parent leaves Women's Hospital with a baby, nurses give them a folder of information that includes an entire section called, "Crying is normal." They also give parents a DVD about purple crying.
The idea is to let moms and dads know it is ok to feel frustrated if the baby won't stop crying, but it's not ok to lose control.
WFMY News 2