Mayo Clinic nurses are in the middle of a campaign to protect infants’ heads — in more ways than one.
In November and December, Mayo’s Family Birth Center and Neonatal ICU have given out an additional, purple cap along with the normal pink or blue one that all families receive.
That cap represents peak crying time for infants — and cautions parents and other caregivers against using force to quiet their children.
Learning to knit
Many of the hats came from outside organizations, but Mayo nurses added a "personal, creative" touch by making many of the caps themselves, organizer Shanna Rapp said.
Making more than 40 of the caps allowed Pam Geving, a nurse in the Family Birth Center, to give back to the families she helps every day.
"I’ve been an OB (obstetrics and gynecology nurse) for a long time, and it’s a gift to be part of the pregnancy and birth experience," Geving said.
Rapp and Geving, registered nurses, are involved with the " Click for Babies" campaign, which raises awareness for a period of time when newborns cry a lot, which may trigger caregivers to shake or otherwise harm the children.
The name "Click for Babies" comes from the sound of knitting needles as crafters put together awareness caps.
The purple hats represent the Period of PURPLE (which stands for "peak of crying," "unexpected," "resists soothing," "pain-like face," "long-lasting" and "evening").
The period usually lasts from month one to three, Rapp said, and requires parents to come up with coping methods.
Teaching parents about the dangers of shaking their children is standard education in the state of Minnesota, Rapp said.
However, not all caregivers — including grandparents, baby sitters, or other relatives — know how easy it is to injure the babies, or may have outdated ideas about the ubiquity of crying.
"We’re very aware of this on our staff and in our units," Rapp said. "But after a few months outside, it gets forgotten. … As soon as they leave for home, they have other people caring for the babies. (We) want that awareness in everyone that who touches the baby that crying is normal, crying is natural."
Shaken baby syndrome is the leading cause of deathin child abuse cases, and there are about 1,300 cases reported in the U.S. each year.
It’s the most preventable cause of infant death, Rapp said, and stems purely from frustration and anxiety. In other words, no amount of money, previous education, or privilege can stop it from happening.
It’s up to prenatal education.
"A lot of people think, ‘This won’t happen to us, our baby won’t be the one that cries all the time,’" Rapp said. "That’s unfortunately not the case."
Racking up the caps
The hope is that the caps, and conversations around them, will spread awareness beyond the walls of the birth center.
Shortly after announcing the campaign, lavender, lilac, and plum caps poured in, Rapp said.
After ordering about 200 hats from the national campaign, Rapp hoped for about 200 more to come in from local sources.
Instead, they got more than 600 from organizations such as Bundles of Love.
"I think people seeing me knit them has been quite educational," Geving, a prenatal educator, added. She brought her knitting to her children’s soccer practices and on breaks, which prompted people to ask about the project.
There are also several displays of the hats hanging in the family birth center and lobby.
Some of the Mayo Clinic knitters made Vikings-themed caps to keep their caps from seeming too stereotypically feminine.
"I bought a pom maker — I didn’t know those existed," Geving said.