Its 8pm (or later!) and your baby is inconsolably crying AGAIN.
You passed sleep deprivation about 3 hours ago.
If your crying baby led you on a search for “What is the baby witching hour”? I have some good news for you.
You’re not the first mama this has happened to and you won’t be the last.
Keep reading, I’m going to share some important info and super actionable tips in this guide to the baby witching hour.
What Is The Baby Witching Hour?
The witching hour for babies is a daily period of time in the evenings, usually around 5pm-11pm, when a baby with a usually mild temperament gets fussy and inconsolable.
What does this look like? Here are some signs and symptoms of the baby witching hour:
- Your baby is crying for an extended period of time during the late afternoon to evening hours.
- The things that normally comfort and soothe your baby do not work at all.
- Your baby cannot be settled enough to go to bed during the evening hours of 5pm-11pm.
- Your baby is cluster feeding and wants to have several feeding sessions in a short period of time.
The baby witching hour can be tough on a new mom because of the nonstop crying to handle while you’re dealing with this huge adjustment to your life and schedule.
On top of your baby’s gas issues, sleep concerns, bathing your newborn, and more you can feel like the learning curve is steep.
Which leads me to your next question.
When Do Babies Outgrow Witching Hour?
The good news is that this is just a phase. The baby witching hour starts around the 2-3 week mark and peaks around 6 weeks. However, the phase usually subsides around 3-4 months.
I know, this seems like a lifetime. Going that long with hearing your baby crying non stop and being able to do nothing about it seems like an eternity. Mom brain is very real because hearing your baby cry triggers a response for you to do something.
There is a such thing as a witching hour for toddlers. It’s around the same evening hours, the challenging time between winding down the day, between dinner and bed time.
The toddler years may seem far away at this point, but keep this in mind because I’ll be sharing some tips later on in this post that will help you tackle the witching hours for all ages.
Witching Hour Vs Colic
There’s a chance you found this page because you were concerned that your baby has colic. It’s understandable because the baby witching hour and colic can seem similar.
Per the Mayo Clinic, colic is frequent, prolonged, intense crying in a healthy infant.
Colic is defined as crying: for three or more hours a day, three or more days a week for three or more weeks.
These colic crying episodes can peak around 6 weeks.
Other colic symptoms that make it different from the baby witching hour include:
- Body tension like stiffened arms and legs, arched back, clenched fist, and tense stomach.
- Facial discomfort or color changing around the mouth area
- Crying that is more like screaming
- Fussiness after crying has declined or subsided
Okay, now that you know there’s a name to what you’ve been experiencing and its a normal experience, the next question on your mind is okay now how do I stop my baby’s witching hour?!
Let’s discuss some remedies if your baby is crying uncontrollably at night.
Newborn Baby Witching Hour Tips
Calming an inconsolably fussy baby might seem impossible while you’re in the moment, but let me share some baby witching hour tips for parents.
Tip #1– Rule out the familiar reasons your baby may be crying. Make sure your baby isn’t hungry. A hungry baby is not a happy baby. And while you may be thinking or feeling like your baby just ate, it’s worth a shot. Newborns feed frequently because their stomachs are small.
Tip #2-Try cluster feeding. This is when your baby feeds several times over a period of a few hours. Cluster feeding is completely normal. These feedings are beneficial to mom because they help build her breastmilk supply and the baby’s daily calorie intake is increased.
Tip #3– Make sure your baby is not overtired. Unlike adults, babies that are extremely tired and worn out do not just fall asleep. Overtired babies struggle to settle down and will fight sleep. A consistent nap and bedtime sleep schedule will help you avoid this problem. Now as a busy mom, I know things will come up like sickness, appointments, and other deviations, try to keep this routine as much as possible.
Tip #4– Keep your baby close to you. Honestly, they probably won’t want you to put them down. Try using a baby carrier if you need to move around the house or be hands free while maintaining skin to skin contact. I loved this soft, stretchy wrap during the newborn months before I transitioned to a more structured carrier.
Related: How To Get Started With Babywearing
Tip # 5– Get some fresh air. Sometimes a change in the temperature or the current environment is all the baby needs.
Tip #6-Use white noise to soothe your baby. White noise helps some newborns fall asleep faster and it can also help drown out loud noises. I used a white noise machine I got from Amazon.
Tip #7-Get help from another caregiver. This is one of the many ways to help a new mom. Asking for help is not a bad thing, it doesn’t make you weak or needy. Take your family member or friend up on their offer next time they ask how you how they can help!
Tip #8 Soothe and distract the baby by singing a song or reading a book. Although it may start out seeming silly doing this with a fussy baby, it’s an important exchange between the parent and baby. This is one of my favorites go-to tips, during my daughter’s newborn phase she and I both enjoyed it when I would sway around the house humming and singing to her.
Tip #9– Give baby a bath as a part of a soothing nighttime routine. Use these easy tips even if your baby hates bath time. Follow up the bath with a calming massage and hopefully, this will transition your tired baby from this fussy period.
Tip #10-Put baby down for a bit in their swing or baby bouncer. The swaying, swinging, and rocking motion from a swing is calming for some babies because it reminds them of the movements in the womb.
Tip 11#-Swaddle your baby for comfort. Even if you aren’t quite sure of the difference between a receiving blanket vs. swaddle, whatever you normally use is sure to do the trick. Swaddling your baby helps them feel safe and secure!
Tip#12 Reduce stimulation for your baby. You’re probably like what stimulation? Think of all those noises and things in your environment around you that you can tune out, like tv noises, bright lights, and phone screens. None of that is what your baby is used to from being in the womb. It can be overstimulating to them and contribute to the crying.
Tip#13 Take some deep breaths and realize there is nothing wrong you or your baby. This is can be a difficult time, but you can get through this. Don’t be afraid to place your baby in a safe place like the crib and take a moment to gather yourself for a few minutes.
Can a low milk supply cause witching hours?
Breastfeeding moms may worry that their baby is not getting enough milk due to a supply issue. But fear not, there is a reason that your supply may seem low in the evening hours. Breastmilk changes fat content throughout the day. Your milk decreases in volume and increases in fat during the evening hours and your baby will need less to get full.
Your baby might be getting frustrated that the milk flow is slower, but there’s likely no issue with your milk supply itself.
Do formula fed babies have witching hour?
Yes, formula fed babies can experience this fussy period during the evenings as well. Be sure to eliminate all other potential causes of discomfort that can result from the formula itself or bottle feeding. Comfort feeding is normal, but if your baby just had a bottle and still seems fussy, try offering them a pacifier. Here are more formula feeding tips and tricks.
While there is nothing you can do to 100% prevent the fussy period, but there are plenty of things you can do to help calm your baby and make your life easier.
Don’t forget to save this to your baby board!