The baby witching hour may seem like some kind of zany urban legend, but any parent who has helped their newborn through a sudden period of uncontrollable fussing knows that the witching hour is very, very real.
- The “witching hour” is a period at the end of the day during which your newborn may cry and seem inconsolable.
- This phase can begin as early as 2-3 weeks postpartum and typically peaks around 6-8 weeks before (finally!) disappearing altogether.
- The witching hour usually begins around 4 or 5 p.m. and can last anywhere from an hour to upwards of four hours—which can seem like an eternity when you’re in the thick of it.
You’ve already tried all the typical witching hour remedies with zero relief. Now it’s time to take these five tips onboard to help manage stress and reclaim your sanity. Abracadabra, mamas!
- Make sure baby isn’t overtired or overstimulated
If a baby is having long wakeful periods throughout the day (more than 45-60 minutes at a time), your baby may be overtired.
An overtired baby is flooded with stress hormones that cause them to fight sleep (quite literally!).
- Create a quiet time before the anticipated witching hour when the whole family knows to keep things calm so baby doesn’t get overstimulated before bed
- Try moving bedtime up to sometime between 6-8pm and you may be able to skip the witching hour altogether
This hour will pass! Remember that mantra and repeat it to yourself over and over again as you cuddle your sweet bundle and try to click your heels together like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” (Spoiler alert: You’re already home.)
- Make yourself comfortable
Getting a crick in your neck or going hungry won’t help the witching hour pass by any faster. Don’t let the witching hour get the best of you and your baby’s comfort.
- It’s OK to put the baby down somewhere safe for a minute so you can stretch or change clothes
- Breathe — meditation (there are apps for that) may help you go from understandably anxious to a lot more centered
- Invest in a glider, rocker or other comfy chair, so you can rock the baby and rest somewhere soft at the same time
- Babywear — it’s a game changer that will help you power through the witching hour while also managing to get a few things done
- Comfort feed
Nursing is for sustenance, sure, but it’s also a way for baby to know you’re there. She’ll get extra calories, be reassured by your telltale mama smell, and may even fall asleep thanks to three key nucleotides in breast milk scientists believe act as a mild sedative.
- If you’re feeding on demand (works for breastfeeding and formula!), babies often want to cluster feed during the witching hour. Whether it’s because they are hungry, they want to tank up for longer sleep, milk production is lower in the evening so they need more than earlier in the day, or whether they are sucking for comfort, babies will often cluster feed during this witching hour.
- Get a white noise machine
White noise is basically a steady, cyclical soundtrack that helps block out everything from honking horns to a coughing neighbor. White noise could be:
- Ocean waves
- Rainforest sounds
- A heartbeat
Some people believe white noise mimics the swooshing sounds baby hears in the womb. Others think it works because it minimizes sleep-ruining interruptions.
We just know it can be a lifesaver.
- Stick to your sleep routine
The sleep regimen you’ve already established is now more important than ever. Don’t let the witching hour derail your efforts to follow a smart, strategic plan for getting your little one down for the night:
- Give her a bath
- Massage baby with lotion
- Dress baby in Zen Sleepwear™ to extend the feel of your embrace
Experts recommend putting your baby down awake but drowsy. Then it’s time to cross your fingers, pat yourself on the back, and get some rest so you can do it all again tomorrow.
We’ll leave you with one more bit of good news: The witching hour typically peaks around 6 weeks of age and subsides somewhere around the 2- to 3-month mark, so soak up the cuddles, dial a friend for commiseration, know that you’re not alone, and remember that the witching hour isn’t here to stay.