Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Witching Hour

image source
It is not uncommon for baby to be fussy during the evening hours. This evening fussiness is often between 6-10 PM. It might not last that entire time, or might last longer. This time is often referred to as the "Witching Hour." Not all babies experience the witching hour; Brayden and Kaitlyn didn't (at least, Brayden didn't once we started Babywise). McKenna, however, did.

At first, I didn't know what was going on. She had previously slept so peacefully. It hit her around two months old. She just stopped sleeping in the evenings. It was like she was a different baby. It was quite the shock.

WITCHING HOUR TIMELINE
This fussiness is supposed to start around 2-3 weeks old, peak around 6 weeks old, and end sometime between 3-4 months old. You are supposed to take into account baby's due date and not just the birth date.

McKenna didn't follow this timeline exactly. She started at 8 weeks and ended sometime between 3-4 months old.

WITCHING HOUR CAUSES
There is no real known cause of the witching hour. There are, of course, many theories. Theories include low milk supply and an immature nervous system. Both of these theories have flaws; formula fed babies can also experience the witching hour and not all babies experience the witching hour. If it was a nervous system issue, you would think all babies would get it. So the real answer is that no one knows for sure.

WITCHING HOUR FIXES
You can't make the witching hour go away, but you can minimalize the difficulty of it on you and your baby.
  • Cluster feed cluster feeding (blog label)
  • Put baby in a sling
  • Put baby in a swing or other soothing item (like a bouncer)
  • Go outside
  • Massage
Do not try to fix the witching hour by supplementing with formula. Remember, formula fed babies experience this, too. If you supplement with formula you will only hurt your milk supply in the long run.

WITCHING HOUR AND BABYWISE
If your baby is experiencing the witching hour, one of your biggest worries is likely starting a bad habit. Your baby is laying in her crib crying, but you don't want to get her and reinforce crying in order to get out of bed.

Let me just tell you, don't worry about it. If your baby is sleeping well for all other naps, you are not going to ruin anything by getting her during the witching hour. You do not want to leave her in her crib during this time to just cry. Cry it out is a process to teach self-soothing; having her cry when she just can't sleep is not teaching her. It is just causing stress on the entire family.

WITCHING HOUR IN ACTION
I have discussed our witching hour process in my newborn summary posts, but I thought I would summarize it here. Anyone experiencing this doesn't want to wade through three months of newborn summary posts to get the story :)

As I said, it started when McKenna was two months old. My husband and I were out on a date and I thought that it was just her reacting to me leaving the house (she always woke up when I left the house). Four days later, she did it again. I was home this time and found it odd. I didn't know it was the witching hour at this point.

Since she just never cried (unless I left the house), I went to her room to comfort her. I tried rocking her to sleep. No luck. I tried giving her a pacifier in her bed. No luck. She stayed awake for two hours. At that point, I decided to feed her, confident she would at least fall asleep nursing. No luck. Still wide awake.

My husband took turns with me over the next two hours. Finally, it was time for the dreamfeed and I fed her again. She then peacefully went to sleep in her crib. Happily, she didn't cry that entire time--only if she was not in the company of someone. Also happily, that was the worst night of our witching hour.

Over the next week, she didn't have the witching hour every night. Some nights she did, some she didn't. I could really sense if she was having it or not. If she was, I did what it took to put her to sleep or at least keep her happy. If she wasn't, I put her to bed. Her witching hour was just after her 6 PM feeding. After the 8 PM feeding, she would sleep in her bed.
Here is a list of my personal solutions to get through the witching hour. These things didn't negatively affect her other daytime naps:
  • Cluster Feeding: Previous to the witching hour, McKenna would not cluster feed. She wouldn't eat if it was sooner than three hours. Once she started witching hour, I started cluster feeding, and she started sleeping longer stretches at night.
  • Errands: Our family would just go out and run errands or visit friends rather than try to put McKenna down for a nap. This was nice because we got to do things over the summer months. McKenna would just fall asleep in her carseat or in my arms for a catnap.
  • Rock: Sometimes, if I could, I would rock McKenna to sleep and then put her in her bed.
  • Pacifier: She liked to suck on a pacifier at this time.
  • Swing: Previous to the witching hour, McKenna would not sleep in her swing. We had purchased a new swing before she was born. One day after the witching hour, I had the thought to try our old swing. It worked! She would fuss a bit in it, but she would go to sleep in it for a short nap. This was helpful since her witching hour was around bedtime for Brayden and Kaitlyn.
As time passed, the witching hour was not every day. Sometime between 3-4 months old, the witching hour ended. She now goes to sleep just fine in her bed each night.

A note, if McKenna were my only child, I wouldn't have a problem holding her for her short catnap to get her through the witching hour. Having two older (but young) children made it necessary for me to turn to something like the swing so I could still attend to my older children.

WITCHING HOUR ENCOURAGEMENT
If your baby is experiencing the witching hour, don't stress out. It will not last forever. Also, don't be afraid to comfort your baby. It does not go against Babywise to do so. Trust me on this; I communicate with the authors :) They do not advocate leaving a baby crying and helpless in bed. A baby experiencing the witching hour is not going to benefit from a cry it out session.

Do what it takes to keep baby happy during this time. Do what it takes to get baby to sleep during this time so she doesn't get overly tired and overstimulated. It will all be okay :)

RELATED POSTS/BLOG LABELS

66 comments:

Redheads said...

My DD experienced witching hour starting the day she was born until about 3 months of age. It was like clockwork, from 6-9pm, cry, cry, cry....The rest of the day she was happy and slept well for all naps. I did cluster feed, and my husband would lay her belly down on his forearm and rock her back and forth. This was the only thing that worked. She didn't like the pacifier, the swing, bouncer seat, etc, stroller, carseat, etc! After 4 weeks of age, we did CIO because we didn't know any better. She would cry through her entire "nap". I wish had read this blog prior to experiencing this! It was horrible listening to her cry endlessly, being an unconfident new mother, and postpartum hormones to boot! It gradually got better, and we only tried CIO for a few weeks, then we just held her during that time. It never messed up her STTN or other naps. Hang in there! It does get better! My daughter NEVER cries anymore when napping or nighttime sleeping. If she does, something is wrong and I go in immediately!

Aaron said...

This is really helpful info for parents whose baby experiences the witching hour! It would have definitely encouraged me when my son was a newborn. Actually, it even encouraged me now!

My son (now 21 months old) went through a time like this for several weeks starting around 5-6 weeks old and lasting until about 3 months. Sometimes it was almost impossible to console him (and often if I tried to nurse him he would just get more upset), but usually with a pacifier, which he didn't take at any other time, and being held and bounced to music he'd fall asleep and we would hold him until he woke up for his last feeding.

We actually really enjoyed the time holding him while he was sleeping since he was our only child and we had the freedom to do that (although getting him to fall asleep was a challenge).

At the time, I definitely worried whether he would ever get used to going to sleep for bedtime in his crib (which he did easily for naps) and if I was working against myself in terms of sleep training, but it all worked out just fine!

Janelle said...

This might sound presumptuous of me, but if you do communicate with the authors, is there any way you can ask them to mention this in Babywise? My son also went through this from about 2-4 months, which is when I learned about Babywise and started trying to implement it. I thought I was doing something wrong. I was pretty stressed out and was sure that I was creating bad sleeping habits for life! I think a lot of first time moms reading Babywise would benefit from this info. Your blog is a great supplement to their book, but not everyone who reads their book gets to read your blog as well! (Maybe they could even include your blog in their book!) Anyway, thanks for all your help. You make understanding and implementing Babywise much easier!

Amy said...

Thanks for your post. I'm not a babywise mom, but I did read the book and took some tips that I think will help. We have an 8 week old that is experiencing the lovely witching hour. What a joy it is. Cluster feeding helps and the football hold/rocking helps. Sometimes her swing will help for about 20-30 minutes (just enough time for us to relax and gear up for the next bout). I'm a fan of the 5 S's from the Baby Whisperer. Typically a combo of the 5 will help calm her down.

Jenny said...

Thanks for this post. I was at a loss when our LO was going through this. I looked all over this blog and could not find anyhthing about it. Now that you have experienced it with McKenna there is a post. Our witching hour was clock work. As soon as my husband came home from work. Of course, this was discouraging to him as a new dad. I never knew what to do. Looking back, I just fumbled my way through it. Our LO was not a fan of the swing. I found the best thing was to keep the swaddle tight and did a little jiggling as suggested with the 5 S's. I remember thinking, "Just get to 3 months and this will pass." Well it did pass. Thanks again for the post and the blog. I refer every new mom to Babywise and this blog. Thanks for your time and willingness!

grace said...

my baby also experienced witching hour when she was between 2-3mths, crying ard 6-8pm. we didn't know what it was then, just that she kept crying and wanting our attention. We thought it was a growth spurt or separation anxiety or wind/colic or something.

We just comforted her to our best (carrying her, burping her etc) and miraculously, the phase passed. no damage done.

yes, it's normal and it would be a great comfort to new mothers to know that. :)

paper.flourish said...

Thank you so much for this post!! I stumbled upon it the other day as my son was laying in his crib screaming (he is 10 weeks) and I was in tears.

He is doing so wonderfully for all his other naps, and goes down to bed like clockwork for 8-9 hours every night. But this one time of day he started being horribly fussy, and he would give me this look of betrayal when I put him in his crib. I didn't know what to do and it was ruining dinner time for me and my husband every night.

After reading your post, I tried putting him in his swing. Lo and behold, he sat quietly for an hour just looking around and watching me and my husband. Every night since, I put him in the swing as soon as he starts fussing, and he is perfectly content until it's time for his evening feeding.

I think he may be ready to give up that 7pm nap, and trying to force it was miserable for everyone! So I just wanted to say I was SOOO grateful for your post as it gave me permission to try something different, which worked like a charm as has made our evenings MUCH more enjoyable.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Redheads :) I am sure it will be good for other moms to hear it happens to others, too :)

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Aaron! That is a good perspective to try to just enjoy that you get to hold your baby through the evening hours :) I also worried about McKenna ever getting to sleep in her bed at bedtime (though in my head I knew she would be fine). And she grew out of it and is totally fine.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Janelle! I will mention it to them. I don't know for sure when they will be doing another printing of BW.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Jenny! And you are welcome. It is good to hear how everyone made it through this time period.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Grace. I agree. I will be helpful of moms to know this is normal!

Plowmanators said...

paper.flourish, I am glad to hear of your success :) I am glad things improved for you.

Nikki said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for pointing me to this blog post. It's been two weeks of the witching hour and we just couldn't figure out why nothing was working. An earlier bedtime is helping somewhat, but this post makes me feel so much more confident about why it happens and how to handle it from here on out. Your blog is a lifesaver!

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Nikki :)

Tony and Julie said...

I have a 2 week old who is on a 3 hour sleep/feed schedule and does wonderfully during the day and most of the night. She usually falls right to sleep when we put her in her bed, and generally fusses a little bit a night before falling asleep after a feed. The big exception is that she has been consistently crying after her 10pm feed, crying straight through to her 1am feeding and cannot be consoled beyond 5-10 minutes of calm in our arms. After the 1am feed, she seems to settle down and goes to sleep with little calming from us - perhaps from sheer exhaustion of being upset for 2 hours if nothing else. I have been desperately looking for advice on what to do because we don't know how to best help her without undoing our efforts of encouraging her to go to sleep on her own. The witching hour sounds very much like what she is experiencing - would this be possible in the middle of the night? What would you recommend for handling the crying? We don't want to build a bad habit by holding and rocking her each night, but I really can't bear to listen to her crying so desperately without consoling her. It is breaking my heart to her cry and we're looking for any advice or recommendations of how to handle this. We have a good idea of what NOT to do but are at a loss for what TO DO in those hours of crying. Your blog has been an amazing resource already, and we're just 2 weeks in! Thank you for all the work you put into this.

Plowmanators said...

Tony and Julie, it is definitely possible in the middle of the night.

First, don't worry about undoing all of your work. If it is witching hour, then she is crying out of some unknown issue, so it doesn't relate to reasons for CIO or teaching to self-soothe.

This is a hard time of day because I am sure you would like to be sleeping...but I would either put her in a swing, bouncy chair, or if that doesn't work, one of you hold her. Give her a pacifier...do whatever it takes (so long as it is safe :) ).

I think you will be able to sense nights when she isn't witching hour-ish. I would keep trying to put her down in hopes of everyone getting sleep, but be prepared to get her up if the crying starts.

Also, if you do put her in a swing or something, set an alarm and get her up at 1 for that feeding and put her back in bed. You want to use it only for getting over witching hour...if you take it beyond that, you will start a habit.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for this post. I read it when you first published it, but was glad I knew it was here and could read it again now that my DD is 10 weeks old and we definitely have some witching hour evenings. It is a relief to know we're not doing something wrong and not messing up all the good that's going on during the day.

Plowmanators said...

You are very welcome Jennifer :) I wish I had it when McKenna first started her fussiness :)

thesprian said...

We experienced this with both of our boys. Our second is just 4 weeks old and I just said to my husband today, "Kai never went to sleep for this nap either, did he?" The thing that stood out to me about your post was your comment that McKenna didn't necessarily cry through it unless put down for her nap. That's exactly the same for both of my boys. And I too needed permission again this time around (I gave it to myself with my first born) to let him be up, being held, in his swing, with a pacifier etc. SO GREAT to know this is perfectly normal!

Plowmanators said...

It is nice to know it is normal, isn't it? :)

MommySarah said...

Oh my goodness! I truly cannot thank you enough for this post. My sweet baby girl will be 4 weeks tomorrow and she has been experiencing this for the past week! I would be in tears, telling my husband that I didn't know what could possibly be wrong with her! She does so well during the day and it has been horrible for me, second guessing my every move in the evenings. Tonight I am going to keep her up with us and cluster feed (which she has been doing at this time of night, I thought it was just due to a growth spurt though). Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Your blog is a lifesaver.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome :)

Yuan Huntington said...

THANK YOU for this post! My son started fussing/crying/screaming two weeks ago between 6:30pm-8:30pm. Sometimes, it would last 10 minutes but one night it lasted for nearly 2 hours. I had no idea what it might be: he was fed, clean and not overtired. Now I know it might be 'the witching hour'. The only difference here is that my son started this when he was 3 months old. Isn't the witching hour supposed to be over by then and not starting? Other than the witching hour, he is a happy and calm baby. Well, I hope it doesn't lasts long because it's excruciating and frustrating...

Plowmanators said...

Yes, for most the witching hour ends around 3 months, but my daughter was a later witching hour person, too.

Heather said...

ALLL OPINIONS WELCOME....my 3 weeks old son has been doing great, fell easily into a 2.5 to 3 hr schedule, but the past few days has been getting fussy during from 7 pm onwards. i do believe this is his witching hour. i would run errands, but i have a 14 month old who goes to bed at 8...so our schedule does not permit it. my husband works late also, so i only have my two hands.

he goes to bed easily for all naps, with little or no crying, and falls back asleep after our middle of the night feeds easily. the only thing that seems to work is the pacifer. which i have not used since the first two nights home (i'd rather hear the crying than keep putting it back into his mouth). is it bad to give the pacifer at only one specific time during the day? am i creating a bigger problem? i have cluster fed the past two nights and it sees to disrupt his late night feed. should i do CIO? i'm kinda not sure what to do here. last night we did the swing. worked for 20 mintues so i could give my oldest a bath. the pacifier seems the only thing that works, but again, i dont want to "credit card" parent this way. i did babwise w/ my first son but never had these night time issues. he just went to sleep w/out a peep, and i didnt have another to tend to.

not sure how to proceed here!

heather

Plowmanators said...

Heather, I would not do CIO for a witching hour thing.

I think the paci is fine in to do just once a day--with witching hour, it doesn't seem like the things you do spill over into problems for the rest of the day. For example, for witching hour, I put McKenna in a swing sometimes, but that never spilled into her wanting the swing at other times of day.

marylynn_c said...

Hi, my 10 w.o daughter has been having witching hour every night since she was about 2 w.o. We didn't realize that we could rock her to sleep until I came across your blog (thank you so much for this post).

The only problem now is that her "hour" is more like hours, starting from 5:30 to 11-ish. Just wondering if this is normal or if anyone has gone through this? (I cluster feed at 6, 8 and 10:30) She can sleep but only if she's held the whole time, as soon as she's put in her cot she screams.

PS: she no health problems like reflux etc

julia_chg said...

Hi!
I am really thankful for this post, but I am not sure if we are experiencing a witching hour or something else (our baby is 9 weeks old). The "symptoms" are similar - wide awake, not falling asleep by rocking, crying some of the time, but it all happens after the Dream Feed (10 or 10.30pm) and may go on until 1 or 2 am. As it's time for me and my husband to fall asleep, our baby really gives us hard time - he is not sleeping and we can't sleep either. Could you please give some advise what to do?

Plowmanators said...

Marylynn_C

Yes, it is normal for witching "hour" to be several hours. McKenna's was a couple of hours.

Plowmanators said...

Julia_Chg, if it is witching hour, there really isn't anything you can do other than see if you can find a place he is comfortable. If not, you might want to take turns every other night with the baby until he outgrows it. He should outgrow witching hour before too long.

trusting said...

Our 3 month old boy has always struggled in the evenings since he was born, and I've wondered if it could be witching hour. He's changed up the time on us several times...currently he cries inconsolably from around 7:30 or 8:00 until 10 or 11. Even if we're holding him, rocking him, singing to him, or put him in his swing, he only stops crying for a few minutes and then starts again. If we just let him stay up at this time he gets really fussy and starts crying. It has been so draining for my husband and I to be doing everything we can and not be able to console him. Lately we've just let him cry in his crib because we just couldn't handle him screaming in our arms anymore. He doesn't do this at other times in the day and doesn't have reflux issues. He won't take a pacifier. We've always swaddled him and at every other time of day that helps soothe him, but not at this time. We feed him again at 10 or 11 (3 hours after he last ate, whenever that is), and he'll almost always go to sleep with just a little rocking after that and sleep all night. Does this sound like witching hour? If so, why doesn't anything we do seem to comfort him?

Lori said...

Hi There,
Thank you for posting information about this. I have been reading your blog like crazy since my second was born 7 weeks ago. Such a help! My husband came across this post when we couldn't figure out why our daughter wouldn't stop screaming when we put her down for her evening naps (starts around 8pm usually, other times around 5pm/6pm until around 10pm). She normally goes to sleep after a few minutes of on and off crying for all other naps. She doesn't like to be put in anything (swing, bouncer) for very long, maybe 5 minutes or so. She just squirms and is fussy no matter what we do and cries every now and then. I did start cluster feeding her last week at 6pm, 8pm and 10pm. The one thing I have noticed is that she wants to suck, however I am too afraid to give her a pacifier. 1. Do you think that she has the witching hour? 2. She seems to have days where she just sleeps and is hard to wake up for feedings, followed by days where she is wide awake and may miss part of a nap early in the day. I was wondering what your thoughts were and if the sleepy days may have to do with her being up so much in the evening. Thank you so much!

Plowmanators said...

Trusting, it could be witching hour--but it might be witching hour combined with other factors. I would try to make sure he doesn't get too much stimulation during the day--physically, visually, etc. And make sure he is getting the right amount of sleep. Do you try to swaddle him? That might help. White noise might also help. The Happiest Baby on the Block might help you. I don't love the book overall, but parents with inconsolable babies report that it is very helpful.

Plowmanators said...

Lori, that does sound like witching hour. As for your second question, I would keep a log to see what kind of correlation there is, if any.

Plowmanators said...

Oh, and I would offer the pacifier at that time. If it starts to become a problem at other times of the day, you can stop, but in my experience, what you do at witching hour does not negatively impact the rest of your day.

Jen P said...

My 8 week old son (adjusted age 5 weeks) has recently started crying through most of his daytime naps. Up until now, he did very well at falling asleep on his own. Is it possible to experience "witching hour" during the day? Thankfully, he still sleeps okay at night.

Plowmanators said...

JenP, If he has it in the day but not night, I wouldn't say it is witching hour. There is a small chance you have colic issues. but I would guess that he either needs less waketime and/or less stimulation or longer waketimes and/or more stimulation during play.

Mark and Mandi said...

Hi there- I'm having a tough time with our second daughter. First daughter did babywise and was textbook. She was sleeping through the night around 12 weeks but was never a great napper. Baby girl #2 is very spirited and we've had a heck of a time with her. She is 3 weeks old and we've been working toward a schedule for about a week and a half now. She started out with tummy issues and is now on Alimentum and doing much better. So feedings are going fine. She's not a fan of being put down for naps at all and we often resort to the swing and/or paci (if she'll take it) because of our older daughter's sleep. My biggest concern right now is bedtime. She refuses to go to bed after her 7pm feed. I'm confused about the best order of bedtime routine (ie: bottle first, then bath and bed OR bath first, and feed bottle while swaddled so she falls asleep kind of like a dream feed). Regardless, we've tried both for over a week now and she has never gone down after this cycle. We end up getting her up because she will just cry and cry and cry (almost through an entire cycle) and never give up or fall asleep. However, when we get her up she is wide awake. When we try to soothe her with the swing and paci unswaddled she will sometimes fall asleep for a cat nap until her dreamfeed anywhere between 9:30-10 where we cross our fingers and pray that she passes out while feeding. So here's my question--does this sound like she has a witching hour? And if so, is there anything you can recommend from the info I've given you that can help her go to bed between her last feeding and her dreamfeeding? I feel like a rookie all over again at this newborn thing and find myself reading through all this information. Please advise!

Plowmanators said...

Mark and Mandi,

It sounds possible.I am not sure since she doesn't sleep great in the day.

If it is witching hour, there isn't anything you can do other than do your best to help her be happy. The good news with witching hour is it does go away at some point. Hang in there!

Mark and Mandi said...

Thank you for responding...we've moved passed this issue but there are so many other ones we're working on. I can not nail down the first nap of the morning. I've tried earlier waketime, later waketime and she still has a hard time falling asleep. If she fusses for awhile then I know she's going to have a bad nap and wake up 45 mins into it. If she goes down without much of a peep than it's going to be a good, long nap. This whole week she's rotated back and forth with bad 1st nap, good 2nd nap, bad 3rd nap and then we're out running errands for that last cycle of the day. She fusses going to bed because she wakes up after a short last nap and is up for awhile until it's time to eat again and do bed routine. Gosh this stuff is hard--any suggestions. She will be six weeks old tomorrow. I'm learning her cues and she's doing better but naps and bedtime are so hit or miss. Middle of the night is going pretty good- she normally wakes up just once somewhere between 2-4am. Thank you!

File N°7 said...

Let me just say again what a wonderful resource this is! Our days have improved tenfolds by taking advice from you.
We have been easing into to BW over a two week period now. Baby-A is 10weeks old. We went from settling into a pattern of sleep, nurse, waketime, to now having it pretty much down to a schedule. We are late risers and late workers, so we have our waketime at 9-9.30am, awake for about 50mins, long nap until noon, and a 2,5hr schedule after that. Her waketime increases throughout the day and by the evening we are at around 1hr 20mins. She is a happy and content baby, sleeps for 1,5hr at naps, I often have to wake her up, and she is a good eater. It took some CIO in the beginning to teach her to settle by herself, and to sleep through transitions, but she has that pretty much down now and only occasionally will she cry for naps during the day. Our problem is the late evenings. I have her bedtime to be around 9pm, hoping for a dreamfeed around 11-11.30pm. This just doesnt happen. I put her to bed around 9pm, and she will, without exception wake around 10-10.30 and be hungry and wide awake. There is no way she wants to go back to bed, and she will not settle until we have tried putting her back to bed a few times, with angry-crying, nursing and rocking her to sleep. (sometimes rocking comes last, sometimes nursing, and she will always eat with a big appetite) Even then she will wake when put back to bed, but will at least be calm enough to lie awake and talk for another 30-40mins until she fall asleep. Usually around 1am. She still has a night-feed at around 5-6am, and wakes by herself at 9-9.30am. She will be tired through those hours she is awake before sleeping, but will still not sleep. She wont cry as long as she is up and around us. I have tried clusterfeeding with no change. I feel she needs the 7 feedings, 6 a day and one at night, but since she is so awake in the evenings and I feed her after she has been awake long and gives all the hunger-cues, she is still on 8. With the bedtime struggles our schedule looks like this; 9am waketime and nurse, noon nurse, 2.30pm nurse, 5pm nurse, 7.30pm nurse, 10/10.30 nurse, and one more nurse between 12 and 1am. Do you have any suggestions on how to change this? Is it my schedule? Is it just whitching hour and we need to wait it out? And when and if this gets better, is 9pm still a good bedtime? And should I aim for an 11-11.30 dreamfeed? Thank you soo much for any insight on this!

Plowmanators said...

File N 7

It is hard to say for sure what is causing it. Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child says that most babies will naturally wake in the 7 am hour. So it could be that she is just off with the schedule. But it could be witching hour, too. Go with your gut.

The Shrayber Family said...

Hi Val! I have been reading your blog since my 2 year old was born and now I have an 11 week old! I have read through many posts but can't seem to find an answer to my question. He is a great baby, started STTN at 8 weeks. 10:00 dream feed and I wake him at 8am. This last week he has been waking on his own around 7:15am, but we have had the time change and I think he might be going through a growth spurt. He does have the witching hour some nights worse than others. He also still has a very short waketime during the day, yawning after being awake only 30 to 35 min. Therefore, his 4th nap is around 5 or 5:30 (he sleeps one hour). I feed him at 6 or 6:30. Here comes the confusing part. So I feed him at 6 or 6:30, and try to implement a bedtime routine. Bath and then bed around 6:45 - 7:00. He is now going to sleep well (so I can't even say he has the witching hour at this point I suppose) but.. he treats that like a nap and wakes up 1 hour later. I was hoping that to be bedtime until the dreamfeed. So he wakes up one our later, I feed him again, and put him right back to bed. He goes to bed sometimes fussing on and off for a bit (sometimes 30min), and then is out until the dreamfeed. So technically he has 5 naps. Will he just drop this on his own and not wake up one day? He is eating less than 2 hours apart during this time. Also, don't you think I should wait to drop the dreamfeed until we really have a consistent bedtime without the cluster feeding? I know Hogg says to drop the cluster feeding at 8 weeks. If I could just get him to stop that 5th nap, then I wouldn't do it anymore...

hunniebee530 said...

hi Plowmanators, thanks so much for this blog on witching hour! i also had been confused because my LO had a witching hour that seemed to have gone away when he turned 8 weeks old however just last week, when he turned 12 weeks, it seemed like it had started up again but i didn't know it might be the witching hour again because i thought we were done with that. we are on a 3 hr schedule for the most part and he goes to bed between 6:45 and 7:30p and he used to sleep through the DF however the past two wks (he turned 3 months a few days ago) he would go down for bed without a peep but then wake up 30 min into sleeping and be crying for 10min and then he would continue with this cycle of crying for 10-20min and sleeping for 10min, then crying for 10-20min, etc... until usu about 8:45-9pm and i didn't know why. i asked my peds and she thought maybe it was a growth spurt since he has never STTN and eats about every 4hrs at nite sometimes but started eating every 3 hrs at nite. i thought perhaps it was a wonder week issue, but now i'm thinking it's the witching hour again and i feel horrible for not having realized it earlier. do you think this could be a repeat of the witching hour? he usu will go down to bed without crying - should i continue to put him in his crib and then if he cries, move him to the swing or just hold him during this time? or should i not even try putting him in the crib in the first place? i know you said somtimes you could tell with McKenna if she was going to have a WH that nite but with my LO, he has been having it every night without fail for the past 2 weeks. i don't think it's reflux or a temperature issue because he sleeps his naps in his crib in his room just fine all day and cries mostly only during a few transitions here and there. i feel bad for letting him have CIO in his crib the last two weeks because i wasn't sure what was happening. i have tried cluster feeding too but it hasn't seemed to help. he still wakes up every 3 hrs thru the night to eat. thanks so much for this website and all the hard work and time you put into it. it is truly a legacy and a blessing. God bless you and your family!

hunniebee530 said...

oh and thanks for the reassurance that this will not undo the CIO training we have done so far. i think that was another reason i was so hesitant to pick him up from his crib because i didn't want to confuse him badly by doing so. are there any ways to help prevent him getting bad habits from us picking him up during this time? or is it really just no problem, and they learn to go back to sleep in their crib once this phase passes?

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful blog; it has helped me so much with my first child who became the model of a perfect babywise baby (sleeping really well) and now at 2 years is taking a 3-4 hour nap and sleeps 12 hours at night. I was hoping you could help me with a question regarding my #2 child. She is 12 weeks and on a 3 hour schedule. From day one we have had her sleep in her bed and now she only cries briefly when I put her in her bed and then goes right to sleep. She really is an angel baby for most of the day. It is the evening I am totally baffled about. It starts about 5 pm and she can’t seem to sleep in the evening. The only way she will sleep is if I am holding her. Once and awhile I can get a 45 minute nap from her in the evening but most of the time she just refuses to be in her crib. I can’t see how she can put herself to sleep the rest of the day and then can’t in the evening. I have just chalked it up to the witching hour but my real problem is that it doesn’t stop. I can’t get her down for the night. The past few nights it hasn’t been until 1 in the morning that she is finally so exhausted that she will stay asleep. I have tried everything I can think of. I will rock her until she is totally out then place her down and she still wakes up 5 minutes later. I cluster feed her in the evening; nursing her at 6, 8, 10, and 12 and she does get drowsy but once in her crib is wide awake. I have tried crying it out, going in to reassure her every little while and she still cries for hours until I rescue her. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

hunniebee530 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hunniebee530 said...

Just wanted to give an update from a few days ago... yesterday my parents watched our LO while my husband and i went on a date night. he usually sleeps 30-45min for his 4th nap between 5:30-6/6:15 and then gets a bath/bedtime routine before going to bed 6:45-7:30p. well last night, he napped 5:30-7:30p and then had his bath/bedtime routine with my parents and went down to bed at 8:50p with NO crying, no witching hour! do you think perhaps he was awake during his usual witching hour because his 4th nap was longer than usual, that that is why his witching hour "disappeared"? i thought this 4th nap was ready to go because it was getting so short but tonight he did the same thing - he slept 5:30-7:45p. the other thing i was thinking is maybe his bedtime is 5:30p?? but that seems too early? and we shouldn't be giving him waketime when he wakes at 7:30 or 7:45??

The Shrayber Family said...

Val, just an update. These LO's change so much I want to give you the latest before you respond! I stated in my previous post that I thought the witching our was over, but he was treating bedtime as a 5th nap. Well, apparantly that was a short phase because the withing hour is very much still here. boo! :( First, he is 13 weeks now and still only has like 35 min of waketime during the day. It worries me, but he is alert, smiles, makes eye contact, and has already rolled over. Is this ok? So since his waketimes are short, even with good naps, his 4th nap is so early. Around 4:30. (we are starting our day earlier now since the time change) sometimes he is too fussy for the 4th nap and won't sleep at all (btw, the other naps are good - so our problem starts at the 4th nap) but when he does take it, it is only 45min. CIO is pointless this time of day. So here we are at 5:30. Now what? this is what it looks like
1:15 nap
3:45 wake and eat
4:20 nap (i've tried longer and shorter waketimes)
5:20 wake (it's not even 2 hours since last feeding so I play with him then he gets fussy so he eats at 5:45.
No nap after this now. SO fussy. I will do a bath, try to lay him in his crib but crys so hard. I put him in his swing but he will not sleep. I go in and rock him to sleep around 7. I then wake him because I want to put him in his bed awake. However he wants to eat again! So he eats again only 1 hour since the last feeding! Goes to sleep within 10 min in his crib until the dream feed. What should I do different? If I don't rock him to sleep first, it won't "end" the witchhing hour. I have also tried to not feed him again at 7, but he cries really hard again in his crib if I don't. What should I do? Do you think since my baby has such short waketimes he will have the witching hour even longer? until like 5 or 6 months?? ahhh!! :)

The Shrayber Family said...

one more thing on his waketime length - he takes a full feeding in like 5 to 10 min max. So he has 20 to 25 min of playtime before his yawns start. So maybe that is also why his waketime is so short?

Plowmanators said...

Shrayber Family,

That is not a fifth nap. That is bedtime and will not be dropped.

His waketime length seems very short to me for his age. I would suggest trying an hour waketime and see how he does.

He won't have witching hour forever :) hang in there!

Plowmanators said...

Hunnibee,

It is hard to say. I think you will have to be the judge of if it is witching hour or not. I think you will kind of just know--if that makes sense :)

If you think it is witching hour, I would move him to the swing or hold him like you said. You can try the crib--unless he consistently will not sleep and then I would just go straight to the swing.

It really is no problem with the CIO. He is doing just fine in the day. No need to worry about that aspect :)

Plowmanators said...

Hunniebee,

If what happened the night your parents watched him is working, stick with it :)

Plowmanators said...

Unknown,

If it is witching hour and she doesn't sleep without you, there isn't much you can do. I know with McKenna some nights, I had to nurse her to sleep and then she would finally stay asleep. I would change her diaper before she started, then swaddle her up and nurse her until she slept and relaxed. If there is anything that works, I would do that. Hang in there!

Nathan Guerra said...

Hi there, I am experiencing witching hour with my fourth child who is 6 wks. Just a thought. I know the theory is that overtiredness is the culprit of problems but I'm wondering , on a three hour schedule a baby only ends up having about 4 hrs of waketime each day, that doesn't seem like very much and it seems like the good nappers like mine and your mckenna and others described here are the ones that have it while the criers for naptime(which results in them being awake more) don't have it as much and most of them are desribed as being wide awake during that time, but I know that the don;t nap well if kept awake for too long at a time but maybe just an extra waketime (i don't know exactly how you'd do that ) would help, anyway the only thing that seems to console my little guy is nursing although he won't actually eat hardly anything and I end up doing this every hour sometimes between 8-10, he doesn't want the paci or swing or anything else but then he gets enough to not take his dreamfeed at all. what do you think? thanks

Plowmanators said...

Nathan, that is a fair thought, but my daughter Kaitlyn did not have witching hour and she was a great sleeper--she slept as much as McKenna. I really think there is something cognitively going on.

Though I have read from the AAP that a baby NEEDS to cry so many hours a day (I don't remember the reasons), so if you have a child who does not cry all day, perhaps the child has some need to cry it off at the end of the day.

I just could tell that McKenna had something going on. It was like she was a different person for a couple of hours a day. It was so odd.

Michelle said...

Thank you for this post! My 11-week old has been having problems with her last nap of the day (the one that would be a catnap around 6 p.m.) for awhile now, and usually if I do let her CIO for that nap then she wants to stay asleep. When they have witching hour and on't want to sleep or eat but just want to be held do you just not really worry about eat, play, sleep, or about if they eat twice in two hours while never going to sleep? I think my little one has witching hour...so I just do what I can and it'll pass and she'll start taking a normal nap in a month or so? Thanks!

Plowmanators said...

Michelle, yes, don't worry about EWS. It will end! It i hard not knowing when it will end, but it will :)

Michelle said...

Thanks so much! It has ended (yay!) and now we've got other issues...I left you another question in another post...thanks for your response!

Brittany Dickerson said...

With two colicky newborns we aren't a babywise family- though I follow toddler wise very closely! And parts of pretoddler wise. But I have to say I love your blog and learn a great deal from it. Lots of encouragement here. Plus it helps give me goals of where I eventually want my baby to be. And we get there- it just takes longer! Thank you for sharing your experiences. There is something for everyone on this blog!

Alexa said...

This post is beyond helpful! My DS is now 10 weeks old and from about 3 weeks onward, he will wake up at around 10-11pm and stay awake until 2,3,4, or even 6 am! During this period of time, he will catnap (15-20 mins), play or stare into space. We will try over and over again to feed and put him to bed, but he either won't sleep or if he does, wakes up very soon after. We weren't sure what we were doing wrong but after reading this post, perhaps he's got an exceptionally late and long witching hour? Is this possible?
He has a bed time routine and we keep voices and lights low at night but nothing seems to work. Any advice or suggestions are much appreciated!

Plowmanators said...

You are so welcome!

Plowmanators said...

Alexa it is possible. I would also make sure he is getting regular daytime naps and regular feedings in the day. It could be some day/night confusion, so check my post on that--it was written recently so it should be just on the home page.

Alexa said...

I'll do that right away- thank you!

SAVED.BY.GRACE said...

I know it's been a whole since this thread was active... So idk if you'll see this! My son is 7 weeks old and we recently started implementing babywise methods. We did, however, get him on a schedule from day 1, just not really in the babywise manner. I'm confused if what my son is experiencing is "witching hour ". Right now we are aiming for an 8pm bedtime with last feeding being at 7(ideally). Then a dream feed somewhere between 10-11 depending on the schedule that day. Right now when we put him to bed he'll sleep soundly for about 30-45 minutes and then wakes up crying. I usually let him cry about 10 mins them go check on him (diaper, passy, spit up, ect) then he'll be quiet for about 10-30 mins before crying again. He's certainly not inconsolable, but not really content. Prior to his 7 pm feed he will usually catnap somewhere in the 5:30-6:30 timeframe. Is what he's experiencing the witching hour? Since he has episodes of quiet and/or sleep (although broken up) should I leave him be? Or should I try some of your witching hour cures. (Swing, cluster feeds, ect)? He does tend to do this during his other naps, too. The only nap he sleeps SOLID without stirring is his first nap (730/8-930/10) which I of course love bc I sleep, too. It just seems like he can't sleep soundly past 30-45 mins without fussing. Any suggestions?

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

blog advertising is good for you