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  • Writer's pictureAlba Macareno

Baby's Witching Hour

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of having children. I knew it would be challenging and that caring for babies would require a lot of patience. When my daughter was born, she cried as much as any other baby, but after two weeks, she started crying nonstop every evening for at least an hour. At first, we didn't know what was wrong. Was she ill? Did she have any aches? She would scream every day, always at around the same time. We researched what it could be and found out that she was going through what is known as the "witching hour."

When does the baby witching hour start?

The witching hour typically starts at 5 pm and lasts until 11 pm. Newborns become fussy, then cry, and eventually scream. It can last for hours, and some babies can be soothed, while others are inconsolable - like our little girl. It starts after two to three weeks of being born, has its peak at six weeks, and can last up to three to four months of life.

Why does it happen?

There are a few reasons:

  • Overstimulation: Newborns are sensitive, and if they're exposed to too much noise or light, they can get easily overstimulated.

  • Over-tiredness: If your baby isn't sleeping enough during the day, they'll be exhausted and cry.

  • Stomach discomfort: Gas or acid reflux can make your baby feel discomfort and result in witching hour.

  • Cluster feeding: Newborns tend to eat more during the evening to prepare for a longer stretch of sleep. Be careful not to overfeed them if you're using the bottle because it can cause tummy pain due to eating too much.

How can you survive it? Here are some tips:

  • Reduce noise: Reduce background noise that stimulates your baby and create a calming environment.

  • Accept it: Let go of any expectations and just go with the flow. This will reduce some of the pressure that new parents put on themselves.

  • Use white noise: We used a hairdryer, which even after the witching hour was over, helped us calm our daughter in many situations during the first six months. This kind of noise mimics all the noise your baby heard when they were in the womb and has a calming effect on them.

  • Try skin-to-skin: Close contact with your baby can work wonders. Take your shirt off and place the baby naked on your skin - use something to cover the baby, so they don't get ill.

  • Swaddle your newborn: For some babies, swaddling can have a calming effect since they are held tight and feel like being in the womb.

  • Switch caregivers: If you're getting frustrated or need a break, it's best to switch so that you can take a break. Your baby will feel that you are stressed or nervous, and it will be more challenging to calm them.

  • Use motion: Your baby is used to being rocked and swayed inside the womb anytime you were walking.

If you're trying to calm your baby using different methods, avoid switching between them too frequently. Give each method at least 10 minutes before trying a new one. Constantly changing tactics can overstimulate the baby and make the situation worse.

We had a tough time with our little one, as nothing seemed to work to calm her down. She would cry inconsolably until she eventually became exhausted and fell asleep. However, after 10 weeks, things improved dramatically and she was like a different baby.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is simply be there for your baby. Never leave them crying alone.

If you're in a similar situation, just hang on and take turns caring for the baby if you can. It may be tough, but it will soon pass and become just a memory.


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