At some point or another, most parents have experienced having a baby with late afternoon or nighttime fussiness when baby seems to be inconsolable. Unfortunately, a lot of parents search for a cause of the endless crying and end their search with many of them concluding that their child has colic. While it is possible that your child may have colic, what if it is not? In this blog we will be discussing the witching hour and how to minimize the fussiness that comes along with it.
What Causes Witching Hour?
There are a myriad of causes for witching hour, but most of them are a direct result of your baby having too much or not enough of something. If your baby has been awake for too long, overtiredness can result and, contrary to popular belief; your baby will be harder to put to bed. Similarly, too much stimulation can drive your baby into a screaming frenzy that will require careful action to remedy. Most babies are also hypersensitive to noise which can compound the overstimulation. Stomach problems such as excess gas create a great deal of discomfort for little ones that make them inconsolable. If it is getting close to bedtime, your baby may want to cluster feed in an attempt to “store up” on milk to help them sleep longer stretches. This one can sometimes be difficult to spot because often parents think their baby couldn’t possibly want more after they just had a full feed.
Prevention and Remedies
If you suspect your baby is having a witching hour due to being overtired, the solution is fairly simple. Make sure that your baby is getting enough sleep by keeping them on a napping schedule, so they are aren’t up for too long. For babies that may be dealing with overstimulation, try taking them to a dark room with plenty of white noise to drain out stimulating sounds. Avoid making eye contact with your baby and then try to utilize motion to help calm them down to sleep. You may also want to swaddle your newborn or offer them the breast if you are breastfeeding or a pacifier. If you think your baby is having stomach issues, you may want to try burping them more frequently during feedings. It may also be worthwhile to remove things like caffeine, spicy foods, and carbonated drinks from your diet to see if the issue improves.
When your baby is in the middle of a witching hour, it can be very stressful for you as a parent. Since your baby cannot tell you exactly what is wrong, you have to go through a process of elimination that can make you feel powerless or frustrated. If you feel yourself losing your sense of calm, don’t be afraid to walk away for a few minutes. Make sure you place your baby in a safe place such as a crib or bassinet that is free from any objects and let your baby cry for a few minutes while calming yourself down. Once you have returned to a calm state, begin again with your efforts to soothe your child. Sometimes that short break to regain your composure is all it takes to help them drift off to sleep.
Newborn care specialists are experts at helping parents learn the techniques needed to minimize witching hour and identifying common causes for it. Contact us today, so we can work with you to find the best ways to help.