The Witching Hour: Evening Fussiness and Your Baby

You’ve heard of it, the witching hour! Often described as bouts of fussiness or crying spells throughout the evening when baby just can’t be calmed or settled. Pacifiers don’t soothe. Feedings don’t suffice. Nap won’t happen. Everything you know to work just doesn’t cut it!

So, what gives? What can cause these sweet babies to stir up so much commotion during the witching hours?

Let me share a peek into my book of magic spells so you both won’t be howling at the moon!

 

Over tiredness! If your little goblin missed a nap or isn’t getting a enough restful sleep throughout the day this can lead to crankiness in the evening.

Magic Spell: Watch for early cues of sleepiness. Is baby rubbing her eyes, grabbing his ears, starting to become restless, wanting a nuk, nuzzling into you or a blankie? These are all signs he may be ready for a nap. Catching the cues before baby gets too tired is extremely helpful for successful nap times.

They vant to suck your milk! *cue Dracula voice* Like extra hungry vampires, babies like to fill up during the evening and find both comfort and nourishment in cluster feeding right before bedtime.

Magic Spell: Cluster feeding is the way your baby communicates to your body that he needs more milk. While it might be frustrating to hear that hungry cry just 30 minutes after you fed him, it’s very normal, especially within the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Formula fed babies can “tank up” before bed too and often times both nurslings and formula fed babies will have their longest sleep stretches right after cluster feedings. Want more info on cluster feedings?

Gassiness! Bubble, bubble toil and trouble, some babies experience more burping, spitting up, and gas in the evening.

Magic Spell: If you’re nursing it might be a good time to keep a food journal. Is baby reacting to a food you’re eating? Have you started back to work and now baby is taking a bottle? Paced bottle feeding can be a helpful solution for bottle feeding and avoiding the extra gulping of air. Check out paced bottle feeding here! If formula feeding, remember to burp, burp, burp! You can try bicycling baby’s legs or applying a warm washcloth to his tummy to help comfort and relieve baby of belly pains.

Over stimulation! This tends to be the biggest culprit. After a long day families are busy cooking dinner, preparing for the next day, helping older siblings, transitioning siblings from daycare/school to home routine, and so on. By this time of day babies are often maxed out causing stimulation overload. On top of that if you’ve been at work there is a strong emotional charge now that baby is seeing you again!

Magic spell: Take a moment to reconnect with baby. Easy ways to do this include: wearing baby, snuggles, soothing sounds (singing, shushing, music), or even changing up the environment- have your partner take over baby duties for a bit or step outside and watch the leaves wiggle.

The good news? Babies tend to outgrow these fussy evenings after the first months as their nervous system matures and they become more comfortable in their new environment outside of the womb. It’s important to remind yourself to take a break and recharge throughout the day. Call in the recruits such as a friend, family member or postpartum doula to lend a helping hand in the evenings!

So, the witching hour? It can be frustrating and exhausting, but before you deem your house as the scariest on the block try out these tips, know that it will pass and soon you’ll have your happy little monster right back on track.

For more tips and tricks and magic spells contact us at (920)255-2512 or email us WisconsinFamilyDoulas@gmail.com