Just when your baby is about two to three weeks old, you might find them behaving weirdly and irritably. They get annoyed easily and create a fuss, which turns into hours of crying without any apparent reason.
You might find them all cranky, with tears running down those red puffy cheeks in the late afternoons or the early evenings. They might become inconsolable and end up crying for hours, at about the same time every day, and it might leave you wondering, what’s bothering them? Well, to break the bad news, your baby’s witching hour is finally here.
Typically, witching hour starts occurring repeatedly every day from about 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Normally, most babies cry during the witching hour. The peak time is at about 6 weeks old.
If your baby does not have any underlying medical condition or there are no other symptoms, such as bloody stools or fever, it’s quite normal for your kiddo to behave like this. Eventually, they outgrow the witching hours completely within 3-4 months.
What Are Baby’s Witching Hours?
Most babies around the age of 6 weeks, go through the witching hour, which simply put, involves a lot of inconsolable cries and a fussy attitude as a cherry on top! These sessions usually occur every day at about the same time in the evening. This phase of your little one’s life is referred to as their witching hours or colic. It’s a difficult time for you as a parent, as your baby might cry for hours without any apparent reason.
You must ensure that there is no underlying medical condition causing this. Check your baby’s temperature to make sure they do not have a fever, in which case you must consult your pediatrician immediately.
What Do Witching Hours Look Like?
Simply put, it depends on the baby. Different babies behave differently during their witching hour, some are extremely fussy, while others might end up crying inconsolably.
Typically, witching hours involve intensive crying or crying spells and fussiness that last for hours, sometimes more than 3 hours. The timing of these episodes often falls in the late afternoon or early evening hours, and they may occur daily or several days a week.
Uncontrollable Crying Spells
You might find your little one crying inconsolably, and despite all the efforts you put in, the crying never stops! You might find your baby arching their back, clenching their fists, and pulling their legs up to their chest as a sign of protest.
Trouble Sleeping Or Feeding
Your baby might have trouble sleeping or they might stay awake throughout the day or at night. Some babies refuse to feed or have difficulty in feeding.
Sensitive And Gassy
During witching hours, most babies become gassier or have trouble passing gas or bowel movements. They might experience acid reflux or end up becoming more sensitive to external stimuli, such as light, noise, or touch.
These symptoms can be distressing for you and your little angel, and they may cause feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and helplessness. However, the good news is that witching hours are a common and normal phase of infancy, and most babies outgrow them within a few months.
As a parent or caregiver, you should be concerned about your baby’s crying or behavior especially if the crying is associated with underlying medical issues, in which case you must consult a pediatrician immediately.
Why Do Babies Have Witching Hours?
The exact cause of witching hours is not fully understood, but there are several theories as to why some babies experience it. Here are some of the possible reasons:
Immature Digestive System
Some experts believe that colic is related to an immature digestive system, which can cause discomfort and pain in the baby’s gut. This may be due to the baby’s inability to digest certain components of breast milk or formula, leading to gas or bloating.
Another theory is that witching hours are caused by overstimulation, which can happen when the baby is exposed to too much activity, noise, or light. This can be particularly true in the late afternoon or evening when the baby may be more alert and sensitive.
Some babies may be more prone to colic due to their temperament or personality. For example, babies who are more sensitive can easily get overwhelmed and are more likely to experience witching hours.
As exhausted as you might be, evidence suggests that parental stress or anxiety can contribute to colic in babies. This may be due to the release of stress hormones in breast milk or the impact of parental stress on the baby’s nervous system.
An overtired baby is an unhappy baby, who may have missed a nap or two over the previous days, which can result in exhaustion, a perfect recipe for a cranky baby.
Newborns try to cluster feed at night as a way to prepare for a long sleep. It’s quite likely that your baby becomes fussy during the evening after one feeding, asking for another.
It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all explanation for witching hours, and each baby may experience this period for different reasons. However, it’s generally a temporary phase that most babies outgrow by three to four months of age.
Does Every Baby Have Witching Hours?
Not every baby experiences witching hours, but it is a common phenomenon that affects many infants. It is estimated that up to 25% of babies experience witching hours.
That being said, the frequency, duration, and intensity of witching hours can vary greatly from one baby to another. Some babies may have only occasional episodes of fussiness, while others may experience it daily for several hours at a time. It is also more common in newborns, but it can occur in babies up to three or four months of age.
While witching hours can be challenging for parents, it’s important to remember that it’s a normal and interim phase of infancy. Most babies outgrow it by three or four months.
How Do I Stop My Baby’s Witching Hours?
Simply put, you actually cannot stop your baby’s witching hours or colic. But the great news is that it is a common yet normal phase of infancy that usually resolves on its own within a few months. However, there are some strategies that may help you soothe your baby during this period and make it more manageable.
Swaddling the baby in a comfortable and secure blanket to make them feel secure might help. Swaddling is a good option as its environment resembles that of the mother’s womb.
Use White Noise Machine
Use a white noise machine to generate white noise which mimics the never-ending hum of the mother’s heartbeat.
Offer A Pacifier
Offer your baby a pacifier. As the baby sucks it gives a soothing feeling to him/her, so offering a pacifier will calm your kiddo.
Create A Calm Environment
Reducing noise, light, and stimulation can help create a soothing atmosphere for the baby. Consider dimming the lights, playing soft music, or using white noise.
Rock Or Bounce The Baby
Gentle motion can be comforting for babies and may help calm them down. Try rocking, bouncing, or gently swaying the baby.
Try Different Feeding Positions
Experiment with different positions for feeding, such as holding the baby upright or at a different angle, to see if it helps with digestion and reduces fussiness.
Take The Baby For A Walk
Getting outside in fresh air and taking a walk with the baby in a stroller or carrier can provide a change of scenery and help soothe the baby.
Rule Out Gas Pains
A gassy baby is no good news! Gas pains can cause discomfort and pain, and burping your baby may help him ease down.
It can be challenging to cope with a fussy baby, so reach out to family, friends, or healthcare professionals for support and guidance.
Try a baby massage in a quiet warm environment. Your baby might respond to the touch and gentle movements and eventually calm down. It might ease those growth spurts aches. Remember, witching hours usually improve with time.
How To Cope With Baby’s Witching Hours?
Coping with a baby’s witching hours can be challenging, but some strategies may help you manage this period:
Take breaks – It’s important to take breaks when you feel overwhelmed or stressed. Ask your partner, a family member, or a friend to take over for a little while, so you can rest, take a shower, or do something you enjoy.
Stay calm – Staying calm and composed can help soothe the baby and make the experience less stressful for everyone. Take deep breaths, try to relax your muscles, and remind yourself that this is a regular and temporary phase.
Use soothing techniques – Try different soothing techniques to see which works best for your newborn. It’s trial and error so be patient to see what works such as swaddling, rocking, or singing to your baby.
Stay organized – Stay organized and prepared so you can minimize stress and chaos during witching hours. Have everything you need within reach, such as diapers, wipes, and burp cloths.
Reach out for support – Don’t shy away from conversations with family, friends, or healthcare professionals, and ask for support and guidance whenever needed. Joining a support group for parents of colicky babies can also be helpful, as you can share your experiences and get advice from other parents who are going through the same thing.
Witching hours are sessions of inconsolable crying, leaving you with an exhausted and fussy baby. There is no known single cause of baby witching hour, but it is believed to be related to digestive issues, overstimulation, and an immature nervous system. Some experts suggest that colic may be related to an allergy or sensitivity to certain foods or an imbalance in the baby’s gut bacteria.
Even though it seems impossible to handle the raging storm, you can do several things to help soothe your baby during this period. Swaddling your baby in a comfortable and secure blanket might make the baby feel secure, and giving a massage in warm water might calm their nerves. Using a baby carrier or sling to keep the baby close to your body to calm down your newborn during the baby’s witching hour is a good technique.
In some cases, using a white noise machine might help soothe your baby. Sometimes using pacifiers and letting babies help themselves to calm down is quite effective. Dimming the lights and creating a calm soothing environment, might help soothe your baby. Moreover, rocking or gently bouncing excessive crying babies are quite effective colic relief tips. Taking the baby for a walk or a car ride is also helpful for many babies, as they tend to fall asleep during the ride.
For very young babies, you might try to cluster feeding with different feeding positions, such as upright or side-lying, to help ensure an adequate milk supply. This might help reduce fussy periods.
For young babies on formula feeding, experiment with different formula types or adjust the mother’s diet if breastfeeding. You should be patient and seek support from family, friends, and even a healthcare professional if required.
Witching hours usually improve with time, and most babies outgrow it by the time they are three or four months old. If you suspect that your baby is going through any other issue, or having other symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as you can to make sure the baby is okay.