What to do about witching Hour
What is the witching hour?
Witching Hour is a phenomena that effects a lot of newborn babies! It tends to occur in the evening sometime between 5pm and 11pm when babies are extra susceptible to crankiness and upset. It usually starts when a baby is around 2 weeks old and tends to peak by 6 to 8 weeks, fully resolving by 3 or 4 months.
Unfortunately, the usual soothing measures that work earlier in the day no longer prove effective. Furthermore, babies suffering from witching hour can often be misdiagnosed as having colic.
What is Colic?
Colic is defined as “episodes of crying for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week, for 3 weeks in an otherwise healthy child”
As a result some babies are who are perceived as having colic are really just suffering from intense witching hours.
What can you do about the witching hour?
Very young babies can get tired so quickly. Subsequently it can be hard to recognize the signs of tiredness, especially for new parents. Most babies under 3 months of age cannot sustain being awake for more than 45-60 minutes at a time. That hardly leaves time for them to be awake when you have to fit in feeding, changing a diaper and a little playtime. As a result, paying attention to their wake windows is so important! When a baby gets overtired their body is signaled to release cortisol and adrenaline to help keep them awake. The result is baby finds it even harder to fall asleep, especially during the witching hour.
2. AVOID OVERSTIMULATION
Remember that for over 9 months your baby was secluded in the womb, free of all outside distractions. Conversely, life outside the womb is suddenly filled with things and people to see, and sounds to hear. Overstimulation can be especially easy during the later hours of the day. So, take stock of what is going on at your house during this time. Reduce activity going on around your baby, things like other kids running around, making dinner, etc. Maybe try going into a dimly lit quiet room. In general, keep lights low, TV turned off, phone put away etc.
3. TRY GOING OUTSIDE
A change of environment could be just what your baby needs to calm down. Being outside brings the fresh air, and a refocus of attention. Your baby can sense your stress so taking some time outside to breath can do you both some good!
4. USE MOTION
In the womb your baby was moving around all the time as you were walking or exercising! Recreating this sensation can be super soothing. Try swaying, baby wearing, using an age appropriate secured baby swing or hop in the car and go for a ride!
5. GIVE BABY A BATH OR TAKE ONE TOGETHER
The sound of the running water can be very soothing for a baby. Additionally, the warm water running over them can be very relaxing. If you get in with baby make sure the water is filled enough to cover you and baby.
6. COMFORT NURSE
Baby might want to nurse frequently for comfort during the evening hours. This is totally OK! Allow your baby to nurse as often as they want if it is soothing for them. Doing so will not negatively impact your milk supply.
7. BE SURE TO HAVE A PLAN FOR WHEN YOU GET OVERWHELMED
It is expected that dealing with a baby during the witching hour will get exhausting and frustrating. It is more than OK to put your baby down in their bassinet and walk away for a few minutes. For instance, go outside and get yourself some fresh air to regroup. Think of something to get your mind off of the stress of the situation. Try finding shapes in the clouds or counting out 10 deep breaths in and out.
8. ASK FOR HELP!
Make sure you take people up on offers to help during the newborn days. There will be plenty of opportunities and you should ask for SPECIFIC things you need. For example, ask someone to drop off dinner from your favorite restaurant at a specific time. Then have them come in and hold the baby for you while you eat! Better yet, let them keep holding the baby after you eat while you take a shower. Keep in mind that while you are totally overwhelmed an outsider is better rested and can take on the challenge of helping! So let them 🙂
In conclusion, be kind to yourself!
When things get tough make sure you remind yourself that you are doing an AMAZING JOB! You are not only totally capable but you are the BEST parent for your baby. The newborn days seem endless when you are in the thick of it! However, the time truly is short lived when you look back. Things do get easier, I promise! So, be nice to yourself and don’t let the stress steal the joy of your new baby.
Is your family experiencing sleep issues?
i can help you understand what you can realistically expect from newborn or baby sleep! With a personalized evaluation of what you’re going through we can implement gentle and effective measures to get you and your family the rest you need. Book a FREE Sleep Evaluation Call with me today!