Q&A: What is the witching hour?

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Question & Answer

If you’ve ever watched a newborn sleeping, you’ll know that they are the most peaceful creatures in this world. And if you’ve ever witnessed the so-called witching hour, you’ll know they also have the potential to be the most terrifying.

Every newborn parent will very quickly be asking themselves: What is it with the witching hour?

What is the witching hour?

Squiggly line

Ok, so first things first: witching HOUR is actually a bit of a lie. It’s often more like two to three hours. And for said two to three hours, your baby is going to be fussy or just downright cranky. Seemingly nothing makes them happy and they make sure that you’re aware of this fact.

According to Pediatric Sleep Coach, it usually starts from around two weeks old and peaks around six weeks. Most babies will grow out of this phase sometime just after turning three months old.

The witching hour can hit anywhere from late afternoon and will sometimes continue well into the evening.

Like most things, each baby will experience this differently. Some cruisy tots may not be bothered at all, whereas others can be right little demons. Unfortunately, it’s sort of one of those luck of the draw-type scenarios.


baby hunger signs

Short version, no one really knows, which is why it can be so darn hard to settle your bub during this time.

First of all, it is always worthwhile ruling out things like reflux, colic, hunger or other environmental causes.

Most likely, however, it’s a combination of overtiredness, overstimulation, a desire to cluster feed, and sometimes just because they want a good cry.

How can I make them feel better?

mum settling a crying baby

Have you ever heard of the 5 S’s for your baby? Coined by Dr Harvey Karp, they’re kind of the go-to for all upset or fussing bubs.

  1. Swaddle: a good infant swaddle is super comforting for your baby
  2. Side or stomach: yes, when they go to sleep, they should be placed on their back. But don’t be afraid to calm them on their side or stomach and then flip them gently when they settle
  3. Shush: it might make you feel a bit silly but most babies love a good shh-ing. If you’re not feeling up to the task, try a white noise machine, or some soft lullabies.
  4. Swing: Get moving. Swinging, rocking and jiggling feels similar to the motion that they were used to in the womb.
  5. Suck: breastfeeding is always an option. But if you can’t or don’t want to, a dummy is sometimes a solution for settling a little one.

Safe Sleep Space also make a very important point that bubs are very rarely unsettled because of anything you are or aren’t doing. If you’ve tried everything and you know they’re healthy but still crying, just accept there will be some tough nights. Just keep doing your best – you’ve got this Mumma!


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