Young new knitter raises awareness of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Jackson Otten knits six purple hats for newborns

November 28, 2012

London student Jackson Otten, age 12, was tasked with learning a new skill as part of his Grade 7 mentorship project. Following his mother’s advice, he decided to learn to knit – the question was what?

“My aunt works at the hospital and taught me about Shaken Baby Syndrome,” says Otten.


Each November, approximately 500 newborns at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) head home for the first time wearing purple hats. The hats are handed to new parents along with an education package detailing action steps for dealing with their constantly crying infant. The program raises awareness about the Period of PURPLE crying - the phrase used to describe the point in a baby’s life when they cry more than any other time.


“With my mom’s help I started knitting a hat for a baby. It was frustrating at first, but I could fix my mistakes and it became easy,” continues Otten. He did not stop after he knit his first hat; he knit six in total and decided to use his new skill to raise awareness about Shaken Baby Syndrome.


Otten took the initiative to visit Children’s Hospital at LHSC and was able to hand one of his hats to the parents of a newborn. New parents Kimberly Hill and Chris Bjelis had already watched a video about the Period of Purple Crying and were grateful to Otten for providing their son, Adrian, a purple hat. The experience made the project even more real for Otten as he was able to see what happened to the hats he knitted.


Jackson with family


Now being an advocate for the Period of Purple Crying, his advice to parents of a newborn is straightforward, “Crying for no reason can happen to every baby and parents should not shake their baby.”


About the Period of Purple Crying


The Period of PURPLE Crying is way for parents to understand their baby’s crying.  The word PURPLE is an acronym which helps parents in an easy way to remember the characteristics of normal infant crying.  The letters in PURPLE stand for:


·         Peak of crying – The baby may cry more each week, peaking at two months, and then less at three to five months.

·         Unexpected – The crying can come and go, with no explanation.

·         Resists soothing – The baby might not stop crying no matter what you try.

·         Pain-like face – It may look like the baby is in pain, even when they are not.

·         Long lasting – The baby might cry 5 hours per day or more.

·         Evening – The baby might cry more in the late afternoon or evening.

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Last Updated November 1, 2017 | © 2007, LHSC, London Ontario Canada