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The Witching Hour

The witching Hour

What is the witching hour?

The witching hour is a period of time when an otherwise content and happy baby is anything but.

Unfortunately, it’s not usually just one hour; typically, the witching hour is from about 5 pm until about 9 pm. Just like morning sickness that lasts all day the witching hour can last all evening.

Babies who most commonly experienced the witching hour are between 4-12 weeks old.  Usually, these periods of fussiness begin at around 4 weeks and peak between six to ten weeks.

Thankfully it starts to taper off between 10 and 12 weeks. These babies are often labelled as having colic.  But Colic is different and is something I’m not going to get into on this blog so more on that later.

So what is the witching hour and what causes it.

Some babies are just more sensitive to stimulation than others and in my experience of 20 years working with babies, I have found that these sensitive babies are more likely to experience the witching hour.

These are the babies that I believe could benefit from the 4th trimester. I believe that these babies are more sensitive because their little central nervous system is a bit immature and simply needs an extra trimester to catch up to their peers.

If you have noticed that you have one of these babies, it helps to be aware that just being alive is stimulating enough for your little one. Try to see the world through their eyes.

These babies are often –


*Have very strong startle reflexes

*Feed frequently

*Quick to cry

*Can go from happy to very upset quickly

*Want to be held and in arms constantly

*Seems very alert but also sensitive to noise

Newborn babies up to about 12 weeks get very overtired very quickly. This can be very common in the early to late a late afternoon, or early evening after a full day of just being alive and experiencing normal life. When babies get overtired, their cortisol surges and adrenaline is released into the bloodstream. This can cause a baby to feel stressed and cry to release this energy.

  1. Try to prevent overtiredness in the first place. If you have family around, avoid passing your baby around too much, if you have been to playgroup, rhymtime or the shops, know that your baby may need some time in a quiet, low stimulation environment to process what they have already been through before adding any new stimulation, even if this means babywearing or shifting off routine.
  2. I firmly believe that implementing a flexible routine from very young, helps these babies adjust to the outside world better and become more familiar with the flow of their day.
  3. Avoid bright, colourful toys, play gyms and mobiles- keep it simple black and white simple shapes/ contrasts and shadows.
  4. Get fresh air- go for a walk in a park, the fresh air quiet and green and blue contrast from the sky, trees and grass can be relaxing and equalising for both you and your baby.
  5. Wind down stimulation as the evening draws near lower lights, turn off the T.V maybe play some chilled music.
  6. Implement a positive, relaxed, low-stimulation bath and bedtime routine. Using Lullababy SOS Bedtime routine sends strong signals to your little one that the end of the day is drawing near and it’s time to relax, unwind and settle. Starting this routine with a very young baby almost guarantees long term positive sleep associations form early on.
  7. If your baby becomes upset at any point in the evening, bringing them into their / your room – SWADDLEthem, DARKEN THE ROOM or turn out the lights,  turn some WHITE NOISE or SHOOSH and offer your baby a feed or a dummy to SUCK then sit with them either on your chest or CRADLE position then gently rock either side to side or back to front and PAT them rhythmically on the back or bum, cupping your hand to make the patting noise.  Try to mimic the heartbeat noise.

You see, stressed parents will try something for a few minutes, then when that doesn’t work they will try something else and when that doesn’t work they will again try something else or their partner will have a go. All of this adds extra stimulation to your baby and will mean that it will only take longer for them to wind down and settle. When you understand that you baby is overstimulated and has cortisol rushing through their system, your best course of action is to mimic the womb and reduce stimulation so your baby’s little brain can catch up, process and wind down.

Doing this every day from the time that your start seeing signs of Colic/ witching hour with your baby will mean that the length of time they are upset for on any given night will decrease, the number of nights they struggle with the witching hour will also decrease and the less stressed the whole family will be.

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