Having a witching hour baby can be so hard! There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve tried everything to help your baby calm down, and it’s just not working. Hopefully, this article can provide you some insight about the witching hour and some baby sleep tips for getting through it!
What is the Witching Hour in Babies?
The witching hour is a specific time (or times) of day that a typically happy baby becomes a very fussy baby for what seems to be no reason. This scenario happens regularly for a while, sometimes like clockwork. Parents may grow frustrated and overwhelmed when they’ve felt like they’ve done everything they can and still can’t figure out their baby’s needs.
Witching Hour vs Colic: How are They Different?
While a colicky baby and witching hour baby can be hard to differentiate, some symptoms are different between the two to help you determine which issue your baby is struggling from.
What Causes the Witching Hour?
While there is no known exact cause of the witching hour, there are a few thoughts about what could be adding to your baby’s fussiness during this time. Here are some possible reasons:
- Lower milk supply in the evenings (this is normal – it doesn’t mean you have a low milk supply)
- Overstimulation due to the hustle and bustle in the evenings when there’s tons of stuff going on
- Being too tired
When is the witching hour, and how long does it last?
The term “witching hour” is a little misleading because it’s not just one hour of an unhappy baby. Typically, a baby’s time frame seems to struggle is the late afternoon into the night. Anywhere between 5 pm and 12 am in the general consensus.
The baby witching hour always starts between 2 to 3 weeks old and ends at 3 to 4 months old and peak around week six. The good news is that it only lasts about four months! However, the bad news is, that will be the longest four months of your life.
12 Tips for Dealing With a Witching Hour Baby
1. Stick to a routine
Routine is vital for babies in general, but it’s crucial for babies going through the witching hour. Routine will help your baby know when to sleep, eat, take a bath, etc.
You might have to try out different routines to see which one works best for you and your baby, but make sure to consider that evenings are going to be the time that your baby struggles the most, at least for the first four months.
2. Avoid overstimulation
Most people believe overstimulation is one of the biggest causes of a baby’s frustration and discomfort during the witching hour period, from all of the things that typically happen in the evenings.
Some examples are partners coming home from work, siblings coming home from school, needing your help with homework, needing to go to extracurricular activities, or you having to make dinner and clean up.
There are a few things you can try to make your evenings less crazy. One thing you can do is prep meals ahead of time or start making dinner earlier. This trick will make your night so much easier because nothing is worse than trying to cook and hold a crying baby at the same time.
You can also have your partner help with the homework or chores. You can even leave the dishes in the sink until the next day if you need to. No one will ever know! (I do this now, and my “baby” is five years old now!)
3. Don’t let your baby become overly tired
This baby sleep tip is easier said than done, I know. But there are some things you can do to help your baby not get too tired.
First, don’t keep your baby up to help them sleep longer at night. This strategy can backfire so hard because when a baby is overtired, they struggle to sleep. I know it makes no sense, but that’s just how it is.
So let them nap as needed throughout the day. Your baby may want to go to be early. Let them!
You need to be scheduling your time every day around their sleep schedule as much as possible because they can’t adjust for you.
4. Be close to the baby
It can be hard to have to hold your baby constantly, but if that’s what it takes to get your baby through this 3-4 month phase, it’s worth it!
A few ways to be close to your baby are rocking your baby, having some skin-to-skin time, and wearing your baby.
Babywearing is great because you can still get things done that you need to get done, like making dinner. And there are so many styles of baby carriers now that you’re bound to find one that both you and baby will find comfortable.
5. Use a pacifier
A pacifier is one of the best creations known to man. Babies are born without knowing how to do much of anything, but they immediately know how to suck.
It’s a comfort for them. So naturally, pacifiers are very comforting. Breastfeeding moms sometimes wait to introduce a pacifier to avoid nipple confusion, but the witching hour might be a good time to introduce it! (I breastfed, and I only waited one week to introduce the pacifier, no issues with nipple confusion!)
If the baby is only looking to suck on something for comfort, a pacifier can help avoid overfeeding by providing that comfort without overfilling the belly.
6. Cluster feed only if it’s truly necessary
While cluster feeding tends to normal, it can also be unnecessary to feed a baby at times and cause problems for your baby. If your baby is going through growth spurts and is not getting enough calories, and is still hungry, then cluster feeding can be beneficial.
However, there are also reasons why cluster feeding can do more harm than good. Especially during the witching hour, if a baby is just cluster feeding for comfort rather than calories. This article goes over the negative impacts of cluster feeding your baby!
7. Try to help with possible digestive discomfort
Your baby could be experiencing an upset digestive system for several different reasons. There are a few other things that you can do to help ease some possible discomfort.
You can try burping your baby for a bit longer, or maybe just randomly, not just after a feeding. You can also do bicycle exercises to help with gas. Tummy massages are also a great way for gas and constipation. Gas relief drops and gripe water are also known to be effective, so you can also ask your pediatrician about those as well.
Another option is to try changing your diet if you’re breastfeeding and see if anything seems to affect your baby’s mood and comfort level. Some moms have experienced a considerable difference in their baby’s comfort after changing their diet.
8. Give your baby a warm bath
You can also try adding a nice warm bath to your baby’s nighttime routine. Of course, this will only be relaxing for them if they enjoy the bath. If they hate taking baths, this will likely do more harm than good.
9. Try going for a car ride
Something about car rides is so magical when it comes to getting babies to fall asleep. If you have tried everything else, and your baby just can’t seem to fall asleep, take them on a ride in the car!
You might have to find the sweet spot with this to determine the best amount of time to drive after they fall asleep, to ensure that they’ll stay asleep returning home. But at that age, they almost always transfer easily.
10. Listen to calming music
You can start playing some calming music early in the early evening hours. Make this part of your routine. It can help set the mood and keep a calm, relaxed environment.
As for bedtime, you can get a sound machine for your baby’s room and figure out which sound they seem to enjoy most. You can also just get a Bluetooth speaker if you don’t like anything from the sound machines and play some white noise.
11. Swaddle your baby
Swaddling is the most fantastic thing. Ever. It can take a baby from screaming to sleeping in 2 minutes. Not always, but for some babies! Swaddling mimics the womb’s closeness and warmth, so it provides an excellent comfort that your baby is used to.
For swaddles, I highly recommend the Muslin Swaddle Blankets over any other swaddle, hands down!
12. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
This one is critical. Whether it’s your partner, your neighbor, your parents, your friend, a babysitter, or older siblings, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The point is to let someone help you, so you don’t lose your mind. You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be a very good caretaker for anyone in your family.
In the short moments you get to yourself, make sure to include some self-care. It will have you feel so much more energized and ready to take on the day!
Here are 30 Cheap and Easy Self Care Ideas for Busy Moms to help you keep yourself healthy and happy.
Your little one may grow restless during the late-nigh, and you may feel cranky. But, don’t be too hard on yourself. This fussy period where a baby cry can happen multiple hours a day is normal.
If you have any concerns about your milk flow, milk volume, or a forceful let-down, consider seeking the assistance of a certified lactation consultant. They also may have some tips to soothe a fussy baby.
Related: If you’re looking for a breast pump to help increase your milk stock, check our review of Spectra S1 vs Spectra S2.
Babies grow to be the most precious things in our life. Even in the busiest time of our life, we’ll drop everything for them. A withing hour baby frequently occurs in the first couple of months. Afterward, babies go and become someone new. Cherish every moment!