How to Navigate Your Baby’s Witching Hour With Ease
It doesn't matter if you’re a first time parent or a seasoned veteran when it comes to raising children. Working with a fussy baby during what we call the baby’s witching hour may begin to feel overwhelming, even for the most experienced parent. If you’re feeling lost and hoping to find some help, you’re in the right place.
The main reason behind the witching hour
Knowing that your baby is distressed, but not being able to pinpoint how to best comfort them is one of the hurdles we experience when raising our children. In fact, sometimes these bouts of fussiness from your child can feel like they’re coming out of nowhere and happen in seemingly random places: in public, in their favorite baby carrier, even when you’re putting them down for bed.
Generally speaking, a baby’s witching hour is best known for occurring somewhere between 5pm and 11pm, and can last anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours. While it may seem like there’s no rhyme or reason to this behavior, we have a few culprits that could be dampening your baby’s mood.
Is it possible that your baby is totally exhausted?
Since babies are still developing their ability to comprehend the environment around them, it is easy for their little minds and their nervous system to become overstimulated and exhausted. In these scenarios, it is important to be patient and try to assess what external factors may be too much for them to handle after a long day. These factors can be something as simple as bright lights or an array of vibrant colors.
Stomach discomfort and cluster feeding
Stomach discomfort is unfortunately just a part of life. We’ve all been there – we eat something that doesn't sit well and causes us to be gassier than a hot air balloon. It’s not a great feeling, right? If you find yourself feeding your baby every 30 minutes or so (cluster feedings), be aware that their fussiness may be a result of an unhappy stomach.
A busy evening routine that diverts your attention
The bonds we have with our children are so deep that sometimes your baby can sense your stress and react based on that energy. As parents, it’s easy to get carried away in daily tasks that you feel obligated to do. If you're overwhelmed your baby may be unintentionally picking up on those emotions.
How to help your baby push through the witching hour and rest
Even if you’re not sure what’s triggering your baby, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the severity of their discomfort and shorten your baby’s witching hour. The most important thing to remember? Be calm and be patient. You got this!
Will incorporating some movement help you get through the baby's witching hour?
You see, babies are used to constant movement from being carried in the womb. Reintroducing that movement may help alleviate the stress your baby is under. Let your natural instincts kick in and share a special moment with your child as you bounce, sway, and rock away their discomfort.
Take a walk and get a change of scenery, then do a baby massage when you return home for some extra relaxation
Taking your baby for a walk may seem contradictory, however, exposing them to fresh air can provide the calming stimulation they need to de-stress. Walking also allows you, as a parent, to experience a change of scenery and be more connected with your baby. Once you return, it may be helpful to perform a baby massage to alleviate any tension or discomfort your newborn baby has while preparing them to sleep or nap.
Set yourself up for success with a dimly lit room and multiple pacifiers
In the end, sometimes all they will need is a dimly lit room and a comfort item. Keeping a few extra pacifiers on hand never hurts when your baby is feeling a little fussy. Limit any possible stimulants, put on a white noise machine, and try to help them relax.
Other tips that can be helpful to get through the baby’s witching hour if all else fails
As you try to implement different remedies, remember that everything is going to be trial and error. There will never be one solution that allows you to resolve your baby’s discomfort. If the previous recommendations didn't do the trick, try thinking outside of the box:
Even if it’s not bathing time, consider incorporating water
Water is inherently soothing. As adults, water can help us melt away stress in a variety of ways: showers, swimming pools, the beach, a hot bath. Give your baby the same type of relaxation by introducing water, even if it isn't bath time.
Is it possible you missed a feeding cue while trying to put out the fire?
As your baby ages their feeding times and patterns change, so it’s common to accidentally forget a feeding cue. Make sure your baby is getting enough food to avoid any outbursts due to a hungry belly.
Take breaks if you can and make sure to lean on whoever is part of your village for support
Sometimes trying to figure out your baby’s needs can feel a little overwhelming. The good news? You’re not alone and you have multiple people here to support you! Try to remind yourself that you’re not superhuman and the reality is: everyone needs a break now and again. Allow yourself some time to rest and take a moment if things ever become too much.
Fephas has tips and resources to help all parents
At Fephas, we’re passionate about families, parenthood, and cultivating a happy household – that’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help anyone trying to navigate through the most vocal parts of your baby’s development. Our blog has more tips and resources about navigating the joys and challenges of parenthood, so take a peek!