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What’s a Baby’s Witching Hour and When Does It End?

baby's witching hour

There are times when your happy toddler turns into a fussy, desolate baby who continues to cry for hours for no apparent reason. It’s even more frustrating when you’ve done everything that normally makes them settled without success.

When this happens, it could be a sign of your baby’s witching hour. In this article, you’ll learn more about a baby’s witching hour and how it ends.

What’s a Baby’s Witching Hour?

Witching

A baby’s witching hour is the moment when your otherwise happy baby becomes completely fussy and inconsolable even when you do everything that usually settles them. Your baby will continue to cry and nag for hours for no good reason. Nothing you do will console the baby at this point.

Unfortunately, the witching hour can continue for hours. Although the baby won’t cry continuously for hours, they’ll be triggered by the slightest aggravation and nothing will make them happy. Therefore, you might have to jiggle your baby for hours, which makes the witching hour even more frustrating and nerve-wracking.

The good thing is that the witching hour for most babies happens around the same time every day. For some babies, it starts in the afternoon and continues into the late evening. Others will become fussy in the early hours of the night and continue to nag until early in the morning. It’s worse if it happens at night because it means that you stay awake all night.

But although this situation will surely stretch your nerves, it’s not permanent. It will eventually fizzle out. If you pay close attention to your baby, you’ll notice that the witching hour begins between the second or third week and hits the climax around the sixth week. Under normal circumstances, the fussing should end when your baby is three months old.

What Causes Baby’s Witching Hour?

Causes

The best way to have control over your baby’s witching hour is to understand when, how, and why it occurs. That way, you can prepare yourself both physically and mentally to deal with the situation. Here are the main causes of witching.

  • Overtired

Just like adults, babies too get tired. Your baby could be tired from playing, lying down, and other occasions that happen throughout the day. Also, your bundle of joy may be overtired from missing important naps during the day. An overtired baby is an unhappy baby, which is manifested through nagging and crying.

  • Overstimulation

Be careful not to overstimulate your toddler during the day because it could lead to fussiness and irritability in the evening or at night. Toddlers aren’t strong enough to handle too much stimulation at once. So, if your baby is exposed to too much noise or light throughout the day, they will have the worst witching hour.

  • Cluster Feeding

At night, your baby may seem to demand one feed after another. This is called cluster feeding, and it’s your baby’s way of preparing for a long night of sleep. When your baby is cluster feeding, they might become fussy, especially if you deny them the feed.

  • Abdominal Discomfort

Since your baby’s digestive system isn’t fully developed, they are likely to suffer from bloating, diarrhea, acid reflux, and other stomach problems once in a while. These complications will make your baby’s witching hour worse.

  • Evening Routine

If your baby’s witching hour happens in the evening when everyone returns home from work, school, or other daily routines, it could mean that the little one is demanding more attention from the older members of the family.

This is particularly so if you go straight to preparing dinner and performing other household chores when you arrive home in the evening. This might leave the baby feeling like you aren’t giving them enough attention.

How Long Do Babies Go Through the Witching Hour?

How Long

As noted above, most babies experience their witching hours when they are between two and three weeks old. Then it gets to the peak when the baby is six weeks old. By the fourth month, the witching should have fizzled out.

Although it’s referred to as the witching hour, the fussiness and irritability can last for hours. In most cases, witching lasts for up to three hours, depending on the cause. However, you shouldn’t confuse witching with normal crying. Bear in mind the fact that a normal baby cries for at least two and a half hours every day.

While normal crying happens in intervals and at different times, witching can cause the baby to cry and nag continuously for two to three hours for no apparent reason. Also, witching-related crying often occurs around the same time of day, usually in the afternoon or evening. Although witching is a normal part of your baby’s development, sometimes you’ll need to consult your pediatrician.

It’s important to see a doctor in order to rule out possible health complications. Although crying in kids isn’t a cause for concern, you should see a pediatrician if your baby shows any of these signs:

• Fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
• Lethargy
• Weight loss or weight stagnation
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea or bloody stool
• Loss of appetite
• Not breastfeeding properly
• Unceasing crying

How to Stop Baby’s Witching Hour

Stop

The best way to stop your baby’s witching hour is to understand what causes it. As indicated above, there are numerous causes of witching and therefore your baby’s witching could be triggered by one or several of these causes. So, take your time to understand your baby’s witching habit to know what causes it and how it can be stopped. Here are four ways to stop witching.

  • Spacing the Naps

One of the main causes of witching is tiredness, which can be caused by different events that happen throughout the day or lack of enough sleep. You can top up your baby’s sleep tank by spacing their naps evenly throughout the day. That way, your baby won’t be overtired by evening.

Thankfully, there are many apps that you can use to monitor your baby’s sleep and identify their sweet spot for sleep. You also need to be aware of your baby’s early signs of tiredness like lack of interest in toys, blank expressions, among others.

  • Prevent Overstimulation

Pay attention to your toddler’s cues to avoid overstimulation. You can easily tell when your baby is overstimulated if they turn their head away from you or avoid eye contact with you. You can avoid overstimulation by minimizing the noise and light, turning off the TV, or moving to a quieter room. If there are home appliances that produce too much noise, turn them off.

  • Feeding

If your baby wants to feed constantly at night, you shouldn’t deny them the suckle because it will only make their witching worse. Just sit back and feed your baby until they’ve had enough to push them through the night. That way, you’ll minimize the witching and enjoy your sleep.

  • Baby Massage

If you suspect that the main cause of your baby’s witching is abdominal discomfort, you need to massage their stomach to help them release the excess gas in their gut and accelerate their bowel movement. If you don’t know how to massage your baby, there are many online tutorials that can help you learn a few tricks.

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