why do babies have a witching hour


The Witching Hour: Exploring Why Babies Have More Active Periods

It’s 8pm at night and your baby is crying unrelentingly or showing signs of fussy behaviour. You’ve been facing this same difficult period every evening and your baby shows no signs of calming down. Many parents would be familiar with this phenomenon known as the ‘witching hour’.

So what is the witching hour? This occurs around the same time of the day – usually in the late afternoon and early evening – in which babies become increasingly irritable. This period of fussiness may last up to several hours, making it difficult for parents to cope with a crying, unhappy baby.

What are the Causes of Babies’ Witching Hour?

There is no definitive answer as to why babies have witching hours, however, research has suggested a few possible causes.

1. Overstimulation

Many babies experience overstimulation due to their heightened senses. Everything from lights, noise, unfamiliar people to the strong smell of a new food can be a cause of uncomfortable sensations for babies.

2. Overtiredness

Not having enough sleep or naps during the day could be a cause of this witching hour. Babies, like adults, need sufficient rest to be able to function during the day.

3. Hunger

It is common for babies to be hungry during the witching hour, therefore it is important to feed them before they become too irritable and difficult to handle.

4. Physical Discomfort

Part of a baby’s maturation process includes developing their sensory skills which can sometimes cause physical discomfort. This could be anything from ear pain, back pain or even unexplained bodily sensations which can be uncomfortable and make them fussier than usual.

How Can I Manage During this Time?

The witching hour can be tough and exhausting for parents who are trying their best to comfort their babies. Here are some tips to help you handle the witching hour:

  • Set Routines: Setting a routine can help babies become more comfortable with their daily activities. This helps prepare babies for the witching hour by teaching them when it’s time to sleep, nap or be calmed down.
  • Adjust Schedules: If your baby seems to be overtired, try to adjust their schedule to include more sleep or nap time during the day.
  • Create Calming Environment: Creating a quiet and calming environment for your baby can help diffuse their irritation. This could be anything from turning down the lights and noise levels to wrapping them in a swaddle before they fall asleep.
  • Feed them Before Witching Hour: Make sure to feed your baby before they become too fussy and irritable. This will help settle them before the witching hour.

Although the witching hour can be quite challenging for parents, it is also a part of becoming a parent and looking after a baby. It is important to understand your baby’s body and the way they react when they are uncomfortable, making sure to provide the best care and comfort.