What is Witching Hour?
Most of the time, it is seen a happy child goes fussy and inconsolable and would just not stop crying. Nothing settles the crying.
The witching hour is that time when an otherwise happy baby gets extremely fussy and the calming method seems to be of no help.
Witching hour is mostly seen occurring in the evening time between 5 pm to 11 pm.
For Babies experiencing witching hour, it begins around 2-3 weeks of birth, reaches a peak at 6 weeks, and resolves around 3-4 months.
What Is The Cause Of The Witching Hour?
There is no definitive cause or theories behind the occurrence of this disturbing hour, but the following can be relative reasons(1)
Baby till 12 weeks of their birth get tired very easily. In an overtired baby, cortisol and adrenalin are released in the bloodstream. While these hormones are streaming in the body, it gets hard to soothe the baby.
Low Milk Supply
In most of the moms, towards the end of the day, the milk supply decreases. It happens because by the end of the day prolactin (a hormone responsible for milk production) decreases.
As the milk flow slows down, the baby remains hungry and gets frustrated.
Baby goes through many growth spurts in the 1st year of birth. These growth spurts come around 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. This is the time when the child becomes fussier and would want to eat more.
The witching hour is not a part of every child’s raising. Only some parents go through it. A few lucky ones glide smoothly through this hour.
How To Handle A Child During The Witching Hour?
Parents going through this challenge should know how to handle this challenge and make it easy for the child and themselves.
Feed the child every 2- 4 hours. Those giving formula feed start by giving 1-2 ounce of milk every 2-3 hours. Increase the frequency gradually if you feel the child is still hungry.
During witching hour, this might not work as the child would demand milk every 30 minutes. That may be fine, as he is going through a growth spurt and would be looking for extra comfort or filling for a good night’s sleep.
Try giving a pacifier to the baby instead of a breast or bottle to calm down.
Sometime cluster feed would overfill the baby’s stomach and lead to vomiting, which can add to the trouble.
Pacifiers in such cases can be added advantage.
Help The Child Burp
Gas in the belly would cause the baby to fret. Help the baby pass out this gas by helping them burp.
Hold the baby over the shoulder and gently pat his back. This would help him burp and release gas that is causing trouble and discomfort.
Take The Baby Out
Take the baby out for a stroll in the garden or even just around the block.
This would bring about a change of scenery and distract the child. Also, being out would help you low down the stress and calm down.
Bring The Baby Close
Bring the child close to you. The baby will relax as they feel your skin next to theirs. Snuggle up and inhale the baby scent to relax yourself.
Seeing the baby cry, would stress you up to a level that you would not be able to comfort the child at that moment.
Ask for help from other family members or your partner.
It is better to be stress-free while handling the child.
If, despite of all these the baby does not calm, consult a doctor. Maybe the child is suffering from colic and requires medicine to get rid of the pain.
Various other reasons can make the baby fussier or cry hard. If the above methods do not relieve the crying or fussiness of the witching hour take the help of a pediatrician.
If the witching hour is stressing the baby, it is stressful for the parents as well. But remember it would not last forever.