Your days go smoothly for life with a newborn. Then some point in the evening comes along each day and your baby seems to flip a switch. It is like your baby isn’t really even there. There is crying and your baby is hard to soothe. Witching hour. For more on what witching hour is, what causes it, and things you can do to help, see my post on it.
I recently asked readers on Facebook how they survived witching hour. If there is anything “survived” applies well to in parenting, witching hour is in the top five. It really is something you get through. Here are the ideas from the readers. Now, please resist the urge to punch some people in the face. You will see lots of “it will end” type of thoughts here and “enjoy it.” Just know it is moms who have been there who are trying to help you find a way to get through this. Believe me, we all know how awful it is.
Relax About It and Accept It
One way to survive is to not stress so much about it. It isn’t something you are doing wrong. It is just there, with or without anything you have done that day.
Jessie said: I survived by relaxing about it — baby’s okay, he’s just gunna be fussy, and that’s okay, too! We usually just hold our babies during this period until they fall into nighttime sleep.
Tiffany said: I fought it tooth and nail with my first couple of kids, trying to make them sleep or be happy without being held all the time. For #3 and #4, though, I just accepted it for what it was and did what it took to keep everybody sane. Fortunately, it seemed to be the worst after the older ones were asleep anyway, so I just snuggled up in a big comfy chair/recliner with baby and held them until it passed every night. Looking back, it was actually a sweet bonding opportunity.
I love Tiffany’s perspective there. It really can be a great bonding time for you and your baby! Though, let’s be real, when it happens at dinner prep time and your spouse is at work and your two older kids are hungry and clingy…not so bonding.
Anita said: Curl up on the bed and cry with them? …I worked out she would settle quickly if I carried her around face down on my arm. No idea why, but it worked. I agree with above, I think just accept it and hold them, either in your arms or in a baby carrier. Don’t be too hard on yourself about it, it happens
Remember the sense of humor–that is always helpful for parenting in general.
Rachel said: Baby wearing, turn on a good tv show and nurse nurse nurse! Baby swing. Daddy! And chocolate!
A couple of great things to pull out from this comment, find something you can do to distract yourself (TV), get help from others (Daddy), and chocolate always helps (that is for mom, not baby).
Erin said: It was frustrating but at the same time it was nice that we had that time alone together every night. By the time #3 came with his (less intense) witching hour, I kind of looked forward to it.
Time It and Be Prepared
I loved the thoughts on being prepared for it. Witching hour is pretty predictable. You can do your best to plan around it.
Normarie said: We survived by timing it. I knew that around 6pm he would get cranky so I managed to get ready for it, and when it started the only thing that worked calming him a little bit was dancing with him around the house. He loved that, so that became our dancing/singing time together. He’s 18 weeks old now and even though he still gets fuzzy around that time because he’s tired (I put him to bed around 7:00pm – book, bath, feeding, bed), I can say he dropped the rough witching hour phase around his 12-13 weeks.
I have also heard a common tactic is to get baby to be asleep before witching hour typically sets in. So if witching hour starts at 6:30, you make sure baby’s schedule is such that a nap or bedtime starts at 6. If you go for this, just don’t let yourself get too stressed out about making it. A tense mom leads to a tense baby.
Mindy said: Try to get them to sleep before it hit. That 5pm nap is the best of the day!!
Alyson said: …my most surviving trick was having my meal plan done and supper in the crock pot.
Katie said: I just took it as their way of telling me they were ready for bed so that became their bedtime. For both of mine it was around 6-6:30pm. It worked great for us and allowed my husband and I to have some much needed marriage time in the evenings
Christina said: Cluster feeding definitely helped me.. Bottle at 3 and 5, a power nap somewhere around 430/5 and then a bath every night at 630, last bottle before being put down at 7. My LO is almost 5 mo and I’m still using this routine and it’s working great.
Erin said: With #2 I would let him cry for a little bit because sometimes he would fall immediately asleep after just a couple of minutes. If he didn’t, I would get him up, make sure he was hungry or gassy or uncomfortable, then just put on a TV show and hold him while he slept. He’d always sleep through the WH in my arms. At about 9-10 pm I could lay him down in his bed and he’d be fine the rest of the night. Near 10-11 weeks he started occasionally going down at bedtime and staying asleep, and by 12 weeks it was essentially over. I started a DF at that point and he was sleeping DF to DWT by 13 weeks.
Rebecca said: My husband and I would simply take turns. Also, on nights when he was away, I would walk around with her and sing lullabies or hymns which helped to soothe me as well.
Swings, Ergo (baby wearing), Rock and Play, dance parties…movement can be just the ticket your baby needs. This can be just the ticket you need when you have other children with needs during witching hour.
Amanda said: Try the swing. If that doesn’t work within 5-10 minutes, put them in a baby carrier and wear them. My girls would usually fall asleep that way, but if not, they were at least happy.
Amanda (different one) said: Using the swing saved us! He was fussy from about 5-9 pm and would stay in there close to nap time and would take his last nap in there as well. Sometimes if he was having a really hard time I would swaddle him and put him back in and he would usually fall asleep that way.
Get Out of the House
With McKenna, we just did not stay home during her witching hour if we could help it. Walks, errands, park trips…whatever could get us out. It was nice, actually, because otherwise we would have been very house bound. It was nice to have a reason to have to leave.
Rachel said: The swing was great for DS, but our DD would not sleep in a swing for the longest time, so the Ergo carrier was the only way to get her through the witching hour. Thankfully it was summer time so we’d go for family walks at the park before dinner, while she snoozed off/on in the carrier. DS’s witching hour lasted a long time – 3 months, but DD’s was very short lived.
Alexis said: Swing, going to the market, running errands, watching tv with baby, take a warm bath with baby. We didn’t even try to get them down just passed the time some days others the swing worked
Wait it Out
There are a lot of things to try during the time, but always keep in mind it will not last forever. I think a really hard time with these type of things is not knowing the end date. It is pretty bearable to do just about anything when you know the day and time it will end. The unknown is what is killer. That is why we can all look back and say things like “relax” and “just enjoy it!” At the time, we were all stressed out, too.
Katie said: I think what helped me most was knowing it was a season and WOULD END – even if my most difficult child had an evening witching hour until 10 months old (despite me “knowing what I was doing” by that point!) My other two kids were done with the evening witching hour between 4-6 months old.
Rebecca said: It wasn’t fun, but it knew I could put her down for bed soon, and I also tried to concentrate on the memories that we were making, even though that sort of sounds ridiculous when you are in the middle of it. Thankfully, this stage DOES pass, and pretty quickly.
I hope this helps you. It does end, and when it does, you will look back and think, “Oh that wasn’t so bad!” See these posts for more:
- Cluster Feeding
- My Sleep Hierarchy For Newborns: https://www.babywisemom.com/2010/06/my-sleep-hierarchy-for-newborns.html
- Witching Hour: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2009/08/witching-hour.html
- Surviving Series
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