What Does a Purple Butterfly Mean in a Baby's Crib?

In some hospitals, you may see a lilac butterfly on a newborn's crib. We'll tell you what this means in the following article.
What Does a Purple Butterfly Mean in a Baby's Crib?

Last update: 02 August, 2022

Little by little, the explanation about the meaning of a purple butterfly in the crib of babies in the hospital is spreading. However, many people are still unaware of its significance. Sometimes, birth doesn’t have the same happy outcome. Therefore, notice must be given to avoid any imprudence from visitors.

The use of a purple butterfly in neonatal units serves the purpose of warning that there was a tragic outcome in a particular birth. It’s common for visitors or other patients themselves to give their unsolicited opinions about the birth that has just occurred.

Above all, it’s common for family members to flock to meet the newborn baby or babies. For this reason, little ones are placed in an area where they can be seen from behind a glass window. In the case of twin pregnancies, families are prepared for the arrival of a pair of little angels. Therefore, when they come to meet the little ones, they expect to see both of them, and not just one.

The origin of the use of the purple butterfly

Newborn twins in an incubator.

A patient who was pregnant with twins tells the story of giving birth on the same day and in the same hospital as another woman. After giving birth, and feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for 2 newborns, she vents to the other new mother, telling her how lucky she was to have had only one baby.

Sadly, the other woman hadn’t been pregnant with a single baby–she was also pregnant with twins but one was stillborn. Unintentionally, hurt her feelings had been hurt by the comment. But of course, how could the other mother know that one of the twins hadn’t survived?

That was how the idea of identifying cribs with a purple butterfly was born. With this marking, people will know that this baby had a little brother or sister who didn’t survive. Sometimes, it’s born dead and other times, it dies shortly after. The truth is that we can be reckless with our comments due to ignorance of this tragic end.

However, as long as we’re unaware of the meaning of the purple butterfly, we can continue to make mistakes. Therefore, it’s convenient to spread the idea to protect the feelings of the affected families.

A new opportunity for Skye

Nature had incredible news prepared for the Smith family: They were going to have twin girls. However, unfortunately, one wouldn’t survive. From the first 12 weeks of gestation, the parents already knew how this pregnancy would end. Callie, one of the twins, had a better chance of survival than her sister Skye.

The parents weighed the possibilities. They could terminate the pregnancy or carry on with it in order to give Skye a chance. However, they already knew for a fact that the little girl wouldn’t survive at birth. Therefore, they decided that one way to allow her to live on was to donate her organs.

However, that was also a will that could not be fulfilled. The mother ended up giving birth to her twins at 30 weeks, and to donate her organs, Skye needed to make it to 36 weeks. Therefore, no donation could be made.

The family was aware that one of the twins would die. However, at birth, Skye had better chances than all of the doctors imagines. She cried and waved her arms as she was delivered by Cesarean section. This was already an achievement; despite Skye’s final fate, this allowed her parents to get to know her a little before they had to say goodbye to her.

Now, without having planned it, the little girl is remembered in each purple butterfly that comes to announce a sad loss. Today, this symbol is commonly used when at least one baby doesn’t survive in the case of multiple births.

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How to value the lilac butterfly symbol?

A sign with a purple butterfly that reads: Be aware of the butterfly lovo on cots and incubators. When visiting this neonatal unit, either as a partner, relative, or friend, please be aware of the butterfly logo on each cot. This represents a baby that was part of a multiple pregnancy but, sadly, not all the babies survived. Produces on behalf of Kingston Hospital Neonatal.

In situations that warrant the use of the purple butterfly, there’s likely to be an unwanted mixture of feelings. On the one hand, the positive news, the life of a child, the arrival of a new baby in the family. Without a doubt, the twin that survives deserves to be received with joy. It’s a light that shines by itself. However, the pain of the loss of their brother can greatly overshadow this coming.

It’s sad from any point of view, this separation and bitter end. However, that baby who lives doesn’t have to suffer like the adults we closely observe. This particular marking isn’t for the baby that’s alive, it’s a reminder of the one that isn’t.

That little child who survived may be totally healthy and ready to make their family happy. Therefore, the signal mustn’t be negative; Rather, it’s a gentle warning to outsiders. It’s not a good idea to feel sorry for the one who lives. The butterfly isn’t an indication that you should comfort them or grieve for them, because that’s not what this is about.

The idea of a purple butterfly arose from the pain of a mother who wanted to put a stop to allusions to the pain of her loss. It’s equally valid for all mothers in that situation. It’s a warning for family, friends, medical personnel, and the community in general that the family is mourning.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.