The witching hour is a phrase used for an inconsolable baby typically between the hours of 6pm and 10pm, despite every effort to calm them. It was originally a phrase used in the middle of the night when paranormal activity was most expected. For any mom that has experienced their baby during “witching hour”, this original idea isn’t far-fetched! This can be a very trying time of day for mom, baby, and family when everyone is returning home from their busy days and everyone could use some relaxation time.
Tips for Dealing with ‘Witching Hour’
- Decrease baby’s stimulation. By the end of the day, baby might just need a rain check from all the excitement. Put them in a nearby dim or quiet room and try to play soothing music or white noise.
- Feed on demand or cluster feed. Milk supply is lowest in the evenings. The best way to make sure your breasts are keeping up with baby’s demand is to try to feed them whenever they are giving you hunger cues. This will help boost your supply for the evening times in the future, keeping them well fed and happy.
- Put them to bed earlier. Your baby may simply need to go to bed as early as 6 pm to prevent getting overtired. Keeping them awake to get them to sleep through the night can backfire since it leaves them fussy and unable to calm themselves down for the night.
- Let them nap more during the day. Again, trying to keep babies awake to sleep better later does not typically work. Putting them down for more frequent naps during the day may help combat end of the day overstimulation. Since witching hour most commonly starts at 6 weeks, remember that most babies this age still need up to 16 hours of sleep per day!
- Ask for help. If you are feeling stressed, either directly from a fussy baby or from outside stressors (work, family life, etc.), make sure you’re asking for help. Chances are if you’re feeling stressed your baby is picking up on that and making (or maybe even causing) the situation worse. This might mean getting help around the house so you can focus on baby more at the end of day or getting some personal time away from baby. Do what will help you manage your own stress and recharge!
- Try soothing techniques. Find what works for your baby such as a warm bath, magic hold, a warm bath, skin to skin snuggles, pacifier, singing, walking, rocking, vibrations and white noise.
- Talk to a specialist about your milk supply. On average, breastfed babies need about 25 ounces of milk per day. This can be hard to judge if you’re exclusively breastfeeding but totally feasible if you are pumping by tracking their intake. If you’re concerned your baby is truly frustrated due to low milk supply, try boosting it. Start with these basic tips here.
If you are concerned there is something more going on talk to your pediatrician to rule out other potential issues like reflux or allergies. It can be hard to imagine while in the thick of it, but remember this is just a phase. Try not to wish away those first few months because of witching hour and enjoy all the little moments. Before you know it, baby will be grown and you’ll be an empty nester. For more baby and mom support check out Spectra Baby USA’s blog here.