I had a witching hour baby. I waited for the hours with dread. It was like the pilot’s warning of imminent turbulence ahead. I’d fasten my seat belt, hold tight on my seat’s armrest, and wait for it.
And every day, at the same time, it came without fail. I got so obsessed with the anxiety of the dreaded witching hour that I forgot to enjoy the many moments during the day when the baby was happy.
The witching hour sucked life and joy out of my early days of motherhood. I’d not want it to do that for you.
Read on to find out what it and how to manage your baby when the clock strikes witching hour. Further down, I’ll tell you how to wean your baby out of the hour.
When is the witching hour?
The witching hour is a time during the day when the baby gets fussy for no apparent reason. It could stretch to a couple of hours and it commonly happens in the evening.
For the witching hour baby, this is the time when they are most fatigued after a long day of feeding, kicking the air, and eyes adjusting to light.
Witching hour babies are usually older than three weeks. Before this time, there hasn’t been enough recognition of time and cycles to create a racket about.
At three weeks, their nervous system hasn’t fully matured. They don’t know what to do with the unpleasant feelings of fatigue and sometimes colic. They also don’t understand that sleeping is as easy as closing your eyes and drifting off.
Frustrated to the fontanel, they become hysterical. The baby may oscillate between cluster feeding or not wanting to feed at all.
Baby witching hour survival tips
Do not underestimate the potential of a neonate to bring a grown woman to tears. I watched my son cry until he turned red and I found myself walking around with glassy eyes.
How then can both mama and baby prepare for and go through this hour without disintegrating? Here are some tips that helped me. If you are going through the witching hour with baby, these will help you.
Bathe and massage the baby before the world unravels
Wash the baby before the fussiness kicks in. Giving them a full body massage also helps relax their muscles and improve blood circulation.
Once the baby starts getting uncomfortable, it might be impossible to bathe them. The new environment and the hassle of undressing and dressing might escalate the irritability.
Offer maximum comfort
Ensure that the baby is as comfortable as he can be. Keep his diaper dry and his clothing at the proper layers.
It is counter-productive to try and soothe a baby whose diaper is wet, is too warm, or too cold. Gauge the room temperature with your body and give the baby one extra layer of clothing that you’re comfortable with.
Give the baby some skin to skin time
Entangled between sleepiness, fatigue and a world they do not understand yet, the baby’s system becomes a flickering monitor. Skin to skin contact is like an automatic reboot.
The contact with another human being helps them normalize their system. Since they are used to your smell by now, skin-to-skin contact is like an aromatherapy treatment.
Babywearing would be a good way to have some quality skin-to-skin contact.
Change the environment
If it’s not too late in the evening take the baby for a stroll. The change of scenery and hearing different sounds will help calm the baby down.
Over-stimulation is a major cause of baby witching hour fussiness. Reduce stimulation by moving with the baby to a different room. Keep the lights down and the quiet down the noises.
Avoid much eye contact with the baby. Let them get used to the calmness which will help them drift off to sleep.
Remind them of the womb
The womb was not dead silent. Imagine how you hear noises when your head’s in the water. The baby’s hands were not always flaring either.
Swaddle the baby up with his hands held to the body. Create some white noise and rock him gently. This creates a familiar and comforting environment.
Help! When does witching hour end?
I know momma…When it’s happening, witching hour feels like it’ll never end. One hour feels like one century and I can just see you looking at the clock ticking in slow motion.
Reduce the intensity and the length of the witching hour with the following tips.
Regulate the baby’s routine
Once you’ve established that it is indeed witching hour, establish and stick to a suitable bedtime routine. We have established that fatigue and over-stimulation is a major reason for the witching hour.
Let the baby take his naps at the stipulated times. Make a strict feeding plan and follow it as much as you can. I am not so great with following plans, but I had to do this for the sake of my sanity.
It’s not as easy as sticking a timetable on your fridge. Babies can’t read and even if they could, they may not exactly agree to your timetable. Pursue it anyway.
Do not keep the baby awake during the day with the hopes to get better sleep at night. Over-tired babies find it very hard to sleep.
Related:Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?
Embrace cluster feeding
In most instances, the baby will want to cluster feed. That’s absolutely fine. Let them feed until they are full. This might reduce the fussiness and help him or her doze off faster.
The feeding will eventually replace the crying as they get a better understanding and control of their nervous system.
But it does end. Eventually.
It may extend to the toddler age in reduced-intensity though. If a toddler is still prone to the witching hour fussiness, change their evening routine up a bit.
Evening strolls, games, or just sitting outdoors will uplift their moods and reduce the fussiness. Reduce the instructions and tasks that may be more tiring for an already tired toddler.
You don’t have to drag yourself through the witching hour until the baby learns to tie their shoelaces. A witching hour baby would want it to be over as much as you do. They just don’t know how to make it stop. You can help them.
Sometimes, I think babies want to taste their mom’s patience and ability to cope in the toughest of times. And baby witching hour is just one of those times! During these times, a mom may feel helpless and overtired.
Good thing to remember is you are comforting your little one and are being there for him. That, by itself, is a sign of being a good parent. The witching hour may be frustrating, but it is normal and it will come to pass.
If you follow through with the baby witching hour tips I have shared with you, you should be able to minimize the time your baby is fussy.
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