Baby’s witching hour? Sounds spooky.
In reality, having a witching hour baby is less supernatural, more super-challenging – but it can still be pretty scary if you don’t know what’s going on.
Here, we’ll talk you through all you need to know about the infant witching hour, along with some baby witching hour tips to help get you through it.
The bottom line? It will pass, mama, and you’re not doing anything wrong – so hang on in there!
In this article: 📝
- What is a witching hour baby?
- What causes witching hour?
- What do you do with a newborn witching hour?
- Do all babies have witching hour?
- How long do babies go through the witching hour?
What is a witching hour baby?
So what is the witching hour for babies?
Baby’s witching hour is the period of particular fussiness that a lot of our little ones go through.
It often happens in the late afternoon or evening, usually between about 5-7pm.
And it usually happens on consecutive days.
You’ll probably notice if it happens.
A witching hour baby will cry and cry – and cry and cry some more – for no discernible reason.
And when you try to put them to bed, they’ll take a good long while to settle.
The trouble with the infant witching hour is that your usually fool-proof techniques for settling them down may not work.
Lullabies, feeding, or rocking might not have any effect.
Your witching hour newborn will probably first make an appearance at 2 to 3 weeks old and this may peak at around 6 weeks.
But yes, have no fear, baby’s witching hour will come to an end.
Is witching hour same as colic?
Colic, the strange baby period of significant crying, is specifically defined.
If baby is crying for three or more hours a day, three or more hours a week, for three or more weeks, you’re probably dealing with colic.
Baby’s witching hour won’t necessarily last this long.
Is witching hour the same as purple crying?
Purple crying may be linked to the baby witching hour ‒ it’s essentially a checklist to make sure baby’s crying isn’t linked to any specific causes.
If you’re not sure whether baby’s witching hour could be caused by something else, like gas or hunger, run through this PURPLE crying checklist, developed by Dr. Ronald Barr and the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome:
- Peak of crying: Baby cries a little longer each week, but peaks just before 3-5 months.
- Unexpected: Baby cries and stops for no apparent reason.
- Resists soothing: Nothing you do seems to help your witching hour baby.
- Pained face: Their face is screwed up as though they are in pain, but you can’t determine any cause for pain.
- Long-lasting: Baby’s witching hour can last a long time ‒ even as much as 5 hours.
- Evening: Classic baby witching hour ‒ they’re crying more in the evenings.
What causes witching hour?
No one is quite sure what causes baby witching hour.
However, some people do have their theories:
- Lower milk supply. Often, toward the end of the day, a mama’s milk supply isn’t as high as it is in the morning. That’s normal. But this might be a bit frustrating for your hungry little witching hour baby.
- Overtired. Before they’re 12 weeks old, babies can get overtired. When that happens, their hormones can go all over the shop and maybe less easy to settle. That’s the baby witching hour.
- Too much going on. Sometimes, a fussy baby at night can be the result of overstimulation. If there are lots of people over or if baby’s just had a far too exciting day, the infant witching hour might strike. This doesn’t explain why it recurs daily, but it could give you a clue as to how to soothe your little one: keeping things calm, if possible.
- Growth. Two to three weeks old is prime time for a little baby growth spurt. This can be extra tiring – and, as we know, the way that baby responds to tiredness is through tears.
Why is my baby unsettled in the evening?
There can be many reasons why baby’s unsettled during the newborn witching hour, but we can’t really be sure.
It could be due to a reduced milk supply, overtiredness brought on by a growth spurt, overstimulation, or even separation anxiety while you’re asleep.
Of course, you need your sleep, too, mama ‒ that’s vital.
To combat baby’s witching hour, you can try to rectify each of these potential causes to see what works for your baby.
But be warned ‒ sometimes, it can take a lot of trial and error to get through the baby witching hour.
Why do babies cry at 6pm?
To be honest, we’re not totally sure.
There can be a range of reasons why your baby is crying at the infant witching hour, from hunger to tiredness, overstimulation to gas pains.
Or, there could be no reason at all.
Babies communicate through crying ‒ it’s the only language they speak ‒ so they could cry even just because they’re experiencing something new.
And for babies, everything’s new!
What do you do with a newborn witching hour?
We know, dealing with a witching hour newborn can be a frustrating and stressful situation.
But there are always ways to get through it, so here are some newborn witching hour tips from our veteran mamas of Peanut:
- Cluster feed. One of the most popular top tips for getting through the newborn witching hour, cluster feeding is when you let baby feed more regularly, even every half an hour. If it’s a growth spurt he or she is experiencing, this can help them get the calories they need.
- A change of scene. Go outside, go for a walk around the block with baby in the stroller, or go to the park. A bit of movement and some fresh air can do baby – and you – a world of good during the infant witching hour.
- Ask for help. If you’re stressed, baby can sense that. And so, if you need some extra help to look after baby for the evening, that’s okay. That’s what a support network is for. The mamas on Peanut are here to help, day or night. Join the community to meet, chat, and learn from like-minded women ‒ you may even learn some new baby witching hour tips!
- Try to prevent overtiredness. It’s easier said than done, but making sure the sleepyhead gets the zzzs they need can help. Keep an eye on sleep cues, like yawning, eye rubbing, or fussiness, and put baby down for a nap. That can stop them from getting witchy later on.
- Try a bedtime routine. If your witching hour baby is overstimulated, calming them down with a soothing bedtime routine may just do the trick. Even a gentle baby massage can be part of a bedtime routine.
- Hold baby. Sometimes, all baby wants is some skin-on-skin contact. Hearing your heartbeat and feeling the warmth of your skin can be just the ticket to settle a witching hour baby.
How do I stop my baby’s witching hour?
So how do I stop the baby witching hour??
We hear you, mama.
The thing about baby’s witching hour is that sometimes, there’s not really anything you can do that will help soothe them.
We’re sorry to say this, mama, but keep trying all of our witching hour baby tips to see what works ‒ even if it means trying the same things several times.
And ride it out.
Do all babies have witching hour?
No ‒ not every baby goes through the newborn witching hour.
The reality is that some babies cry more than others.
But if you’re one of the mamas with a witching hour baby, know that you’re not doing anything wrong.
Every baby is different.
How long do babies go through the witching hour?
You’ve probably got one big question about baby’s witching hour: when does witching hour end?
The great news is that you don’t have to help your little one through baby’s witching hour forever.
The average baby witching hour age that they start to settle down is around 3 months old, the baby witching hour will probably have come to a stop – or at least be calming down.
If it doesn’t ease off around this time, and if you’re ever in doubt about more serious issues, you can always talk to your healthcare provider.
Do toddlers have a witching hour?
Once they’re out of the “baby” phase, does that mean that your toddler will have an infant witching hour?
Sorry, mama, but sometimes, babies don’t grow out of their fussiness.
The infant witching hour might just look a little different from the newborn witching hour.
So instead of crying for long periods of time, your toddler might have a sudden burst of energy right when they’re supposed to be ‘powering down’ for sleep.
Or they might try every trick in the book to stay up later, even if you know they’re overtired.
Or they might have a toddler tantrum.
If you think your toddler is going through the infant witching hour, you can try some of the same newborn witching hour tips:
- Start a bedtime routine and stick to it.
- Go for a short walk outside: A breath of fresh air could do both of you the world of good.
- Try more frequent snack times for a short while, in case your toddler is going through another growth spurt. We’ve got some great snack ideas for you to try.
- Hold them: Sometimes, a hug from mama is just what the doctor ordered.
If your little one is going through baby’s witching hour, we feel you, mama.
If you ever need anyone to talk to who knows what it’s like with a witching hour baby, you’re always welcome to join our Peanut community to chat with mamas in the same boat.
You’re not alone.
😴 More from The 411:
Babies Waking Up Too Early: What to do
Baby Sleep Temperature Guidelines to Follow
Is White Noise for a Baby Good?
How to Dress Baby For Sleep
When Do Kids Stop Taking Naps?
Can Babies Have Nightmares?
How to End Co-Sleeping: Your Quickfire Guide
What Do Babies Dream About?
Sleep Training Baby: Methods, Tips & When to Start
5 Things I Wish I Knew About Baby Sleep as a First-Time Mama