How To Help With "Witching Hour", Your Baby's Daily Fussy Period

Tips and tricks to get you through.

how to deal with witching hour
“Witching hour” can be described as a fussy period that almost all babies go through. It tends to happen around the same time every day and most frequently occurs in the late afternoon and evening hours (4 pm – 10 pm). Witching hour often begins between weeks 2 and 3. What babies really need during witching hour is to go to sleep. Their body is tired and they need to refresh and restore. But they are so wired up that they’re unable to relax. Parents can also miss their baby’s cues that it’s time for sleep and therefore they become overtired & overstimulated.
how to deal with witching hour
Image: Irina Murza

What Causes Witching Hour

  • Overstimulation: In most of our homes, daytime is far more stimulating than nighttime. There is light, noise, and loads of activity.
  • Overtiredness: If your baby hasn’t slept well during the day overtiredness may be the reason for his afternoon fussiness. Over time, as your baby misses more and more sleep, his sleep debt grows.
  • Hunger: Babies from the age of 7 no longer experience day/night confusion, therefore they want to fill up ready for a long night of sleep ahead. However, having a newborn can catch up with mama’s milk by late afternoon early evening. This can mean your baby is feeding for the same amount of time, but not actually getting the calorie-rich hindmilk.
  • Wind: Gas can cause discomfort could be causing your baby to be unsettled.

Tips On How To Avoid Or Help With Witching Hour

  • Morning naps are the most important of the day as its the most restorative
  • Offer cluster feeds from 3 pm, Babies also get into witching hours because your milk supply is low. This can mean your baby is feeding for the same amount of time, but not actually getting the calorie-rich hindmilk.
  • Stick to an age-appropriate routine. Ensure you pay close attention to your baby’s sleep cues and wake window to avoid overtiredness.
  • Skin-to-skin helps to calm and soothe fussiness and ease crying. He/she will be reassured by your warmth, your smell, and the familiar sound of your heartbeat. Skin-to-skin also encourages your baby to latch on for breastfeeding.
  • Always burp your baby after a feed. If your baby doesn’t always burp you can speak to the pharmacist as to what treatments are available.

how to deal with witching hour
Image: Gabby Orcutt

While you’re here, check out four important reasons you should try nighttime breastfeeding. 
 

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