The Witching Hour

The Witching Hour

If you're reading this blog, I am going to take a wild guess you have a crying baby on your hands. So let’s quickly start. I know you and your partner are exhausted and stressed trying to figure out what is going on with your new bundle of joy and why they wont stop crying. I'm sure you've been told it could be the witching hour or colic. So what is the Witching Hour? This is a time of the day when an otherwise happy, content baby has an extremely irritable or fussy period. This often occurs during the hours of 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm. Typically we see this period beginning around 2-3 weeks of age, and peaking at 6 weeks, and improving or resolving by 3-4 months. In this blog I will offer some of the techniques we recommend in our visits.

However, If you suspect your newborn might have colic then we recommend you contact your pediatrician for further evaluation. In case you are now asking what is colic? Colic is defined as a baby crying for three or more hours a day, three or more days a week, for three or more weeks. Colic is generally syptoms of other discomfort. If you feel your baby may have Colic we suggest scheduling an appt so we can try to get to the root cause of it. 

During the witching hour, you might notice your baby may experience the following: 

  • Increased crying
  • Unable to settle to sleep 
  • Increased fussiness 
  • Short catnaps 
  • Cluster feeding/ fussy feedings 
  • Clingliness 
  • Unable to soothe and calm 

What are our recommendations for the witching hour you may ask… 

  1. Prevent them from becoming overtired- Yes a newborn can become over tired very quickly. This tends to happen often in the late afternoon/evening times. When a baby becomes overtired their bodies release cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream causing a fight or flight response. In turn the baby can not fall asleep and the crying period will begin. Establishing a nap routine can help prevent an overtired baby. A baby’s wake cycle during the day should be 40-60 minutes. Encourage day naps to range from 1.5- 2 hours. 
  2. Get outside in the fresh air and the evening sunlight- Taking a nice family walk in the evening can be beneficial to everyone. Being outdoors and breathing fresh air can promote a sense of calmness and family bonding. 
  3. Decrease stimulation and move up bedtime routines- I recommend making the baby’s sleep environment as soothing and sleep inducing as possible. This could include a comfortable room temperature (not too cold or hot), dim or low lighting, white noise or sound machine, a nice relaxing bath before their last feed. Starting a comforting sleep routine younger can benefit you and your baby. You are introducing to them a wind down phase before the baby gets too tired. 
  1. Motion/ rocking/ swaying/ and swaddling- Movement 
  2. Cluster feed- As the day progresses your prolactin levels will decrease, which is the breast milk making hormone. Resulting in a lower milk supply, and causing your baby to become frustrated despite them eating regularly during the day. Allowing your baby to feed frequently at the breast can provide comfort. Even if it's just suckling and skin to skin contact. 
  3. Try a pacifier- It is recommended you can start a pacifier once breastfeeding is established. The use of a pacifier is also recommended by the AAP to help reduce the risks of SIDS. 
  4. Co bath- Which means taking a relaxing bath together with the baby on your chest. 
  5. Minimize baby’s gas pains- Stomach or gastrointestinal issues like gas, constipation, Reflux may cause baby distress. A breastfeeding mother can check her diet to see if something she ate has caused the issues. 
  6. White noise or sound machines 

Please remember that self care is very important for all caregivers. Take a deep breath and remember you are doing amazing. This will pass.

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