Every new parent fears the dreaded “witching hour,” and now experts are revealing why it occurs and how to soothe an unhappy baby.
What’s all the fuss about?
Every new parent fears the dreaded “witching hour” — and now experts are revealing why it occurs and how to soothe an unhappy baby.
The so-called “witching hour” is the evening period when newborns seem to be their crankiest — often starting at 5 p.m., and stretching to 11 p.m., according to Mainstreet Pediatrics in Colorado.
This frenzied time typically occurs when infants are 2 or 3 weeks old, peaking between 6 and 8 weeks old. Experts say tots can easily become overtired or overstimulated, or felled by stomach pains as their digestive system develops.
But fear not: These crying stints usually subside when a baby is 3 or 4 months old.
The San Diego Breastfeeding Center explains that the “witching hour” is different from colic — and some babies may experience both.
Colic is when an otherwise healthy child cries for three or more hours a day, three or more days a week, for three or more weeks for no apparent reason.
Medical professionals, meanwhile, blame the intense “witching hour” on newborns still getting used to the lights and action of their new surroundings.
By 5 p.m., they’re overstimulated, resulting in excessive, prolonged tears.
“Dim the lights, turn off the TV and go to a quiet room to feed. A calming environment and a full belly may be just what your baby needs during the witching hour,” pediatric sleep coach Desiree Baird suggested in a 2020 blog post.
BabyCenter suggests skin-to-skin contact and holding fussy babies.
“Often a cuddle is all they really want. You might want to put them in a sling or carrier and walk around, or gently rock them in your arms,” the site writes.
Research shows a baby’s time sleeping in the womb is very different than snoozing in the real world.
Experts advise taking little ones outside in the afternoon to help them sleep better at bedtime.
A strict bedtime routine of bathing the infant for five minutes, feeding the next 15 minutes, and reading a book together is also recommended.
Consider adding a white noise machine into the mix to help create sounds that mimic what the baby heard in the womb.