From 6-8 am, your little one is the best baby you can hope for, all happy smiles and coos. But when the evening arrives, everything changes. 

What is it about the hours of 5 pm-11 pm that make him such a monster?

It’s called the baby witching hour. Some call it a “Sundowner’s Syndrome” or “purple crying.” Whatever you want to call it, it’s hard. It’s when many parents say their baby or children are the most cranky and uncooperative. The reasons for this change in behavior vary from child to child, but it seems to happen more often with newborns than with older babies. 

Exhausted parents have come up with many ways to make these hours easier, including doing soothing activities before bedtime or giving your baby a pacifier or bottle during these hours.

Here are some tips for surviving this stage in your child’s life so you can get some much-needed shut-eye!

When does the baby witching hour happen? 

The baby witching hour starts at around two weeks and continues until about 3-4 months of age. All babies go through this period. During this time, some babies can cry a lot and some far less, but they all go through it.

Although parents may be worried that something is wrong with their little one, babies are simply going through a very normal developmental phase. Your baby may act like he’s in pain even when he’s not.

Baby Witching Hour

What causes the baby witching hour?

The exact cause for the baby witching hour is unknown, but here are four potential causes:

  1. Overtiredness: a baby who lacks sleep is a fussy baby. Your little one may be too tired from all the activity he had during the day or he might have missed a nap or two the previous day. This can lead to exhaustion and, ultimately, excessive crankiness at the end of the day. 
  2. Overstimulation: similar to overtiredness, overstimulation can make your baby fussy and cranky. Newborns are very sensitive and can get overly stimulated by loud noise or too much light. 
  3. Stomach issues: newborns are known for having immature digestive systems. Gas or acid reflux can be the cause of their excessive crankiness.
  4. Cluster feeding: newborns cluster feed at night to prepare for a long night of sleep. As a result, your baby may become fussy at night because he’s demanding one feed after another. 

How to survive the witching hour 

Pay attention to your baby sleep cues

To avoid exhaustion, pay close attention to your child’s sleep cues. He may start yawning, losing interest in toys, or rubbing his eyes. These are all signs that he’s getting sleepy, and it’s time to put him down for his nap or nighttime sleep. 

Reduce stimulation

If you’re worried that your baby is overstimulated, try turning down the noise and lights. You can either go to a quieter and dimmer room or use a white noise machine to block out outside noise. White noise sounds remind your baby of being in the womb and may calm him down.

Baby massage

Baby massage is a great way to help your baby get rid of troublesome air bubbles. His digestive system is still immature, and he may need some help to feel better. Another tip is to burp your baby both during and after feeding.

Avoid overfeeding

Wait at least 2 to 2.5 hours from one feeding to the next. Eating too often can make your baby uncomfortable.

Change your diet

In some cases, your breastfed baby’s digestive issues are because of the foods you’re eating. Things like caffeine, milk, and spicy foods may upset your little one’s stomach. Remove these foods from your diet, and you might see some improvement. 

Go for a walk

If everything else fails, try going for a short walk outside. Fresh air and a change of scenery can soothe your little one. Simply put him in his stroller and take a walk around the neighborhood. 15 minutes of sun in the morning and again in the late afternoon can help.

Baby Witching Hour

When should I see a pediatrician?

In most cases, crying in newborns is nothing to be worried about – it’s a normal phase of development. However, get in touch with your pediatrician if you notice some of the following symptoms:

  • Losing weight or not gaining weight
  • Vomiting
  • Loose or bloody stools
  • Not eating
  • Not sucking well
  • Inactivity
  • Fever of 100.4 degrees or higher

Wrapping up 

Although it may seem like it’ll never end, the witching hour doesn’t last forever. As your baby grows and develops, he will become a better sleeper. Until that day arrives, use the above-mentioned tips to get through those difficult first few months. 

If you are struggling with a witching hour baby, we can help! An experienced sleep trainer can make the process easier for both the parent and the child. Connect with us today and get a personalized plan for your baby. I’ll be there to guide you every step of the way.