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Prolonged crying

Your baby is likely to cry at times to let you know that they need feeding, comforting, changing, they have trapped wind or they need cuddling. Your response to their crying is extremely important as helps to meet their basic needs and will reassure them that they are safe and loved. 

There may be times when you feel anxious because you have responded to their needs and they continue to cry and sometimes your baby will cry for a prolonged period of time. Prolonged crying in an otherwise healthy and well baby in the early weeks may be referred to as ‘PURPLE’ crying. 


‘Purple’ (see explanation below) crying begins at about two weeks and continues until about three to five months.

Your baby might be happy one minute and then start crying the next for no apparent reason.

P – Peak crying: Your baby might cry more each week, the most in the second month, then less in months three to five

U – Unexpected: crying can come and go and you don’t know why

R – Resists soothing: your baby might not stop crying no matter what you try

P – Pain-like face: a crying baby might look like they’re in pain, even when they’re not

L – Long lasting: crying can last as long as five hours a day or more

E – Evening: your baby might cry more in the late afternoon and evening

  • Feed your baby
  • Wind your baby
  • Hold your baby close, making eye contact with them
  • Sing or talk softly to them
  • Bath your baby
  • Massage your baby

If you recognise that you are becoming distressed or upset ask your partner or a close family member to help. If no one else is available to help immediately, place your baby down gently in a safe place such as their crib or cot and allow yourself to calm before trying to comfort them again.

If you’re worried about your baby, talk to your GP, a member of your health visiting team or call NHS 111 for advice.

If you feel you might harm your baby because of their constant crying, get help immediately. You can speak to your Health Visitor or a Social Worker. Some useful numbers are:

NHS Direct 0845 46 47 (24 hours a day)

Cry-sis Centre: 08451 228 669