The first week after our first baby was born we thought he was the best baby. He didn’t cry a whole lot and he just slept and ate and that was about all he did. My wife and I thought, if this is how it will be for the next year or so then this isn’t too bad.
My wife and I like to joke that during that first week our baby didn’t realize he had been born yet and thought he was still in the womb hence why he hardly cried. When he realized that he wasn’t in utero anymore he started to get fussy especially in the evenings when he would cry and cry for no obvious reason. Since this happened almost every night we learned that this is called the witching hour, even though it didn’t last an hour. Sometime it would last hours.
This witching hour was a surprise to me as a new father. I didn’t realize newborn babies cry constantly almost every evening. Since this may happen to you with your new born I thought it would be helpful to give some tips on how to deal with the witching hour.
Witching Hour Tip #1: Accept It and Roll with It
The best way to accept it and to roll with the witching hour is to be prepared for it. This means not hoping that the witching hour won’t happen, but knowing and expecting that it will happen every night for at least a month or longer. Once you’ve accepted this then there are some coping skills (tips 2 through 12) you can use to get you through it all.
Witching Hour Tip #2: Infants Cry for No Obvious Reason
During the witching hour your baby will cry even after being fed, burped, and after his diaper has been changed. Beyond this you may think there has to be something wrong and that it is your job to figure it out and address it. This mind set may lead you to think that it is your fault that he is crying because you can’t figure out what’s wrong. First realize that its not your fault. Babies cry and they will cry for no apparent reason. So remember to not get too anxious about all the crying. There are parents all over the world who are experiencing the exact same thing with their newborns.
Witching Hour Tip #3: A Peaceful Setting is Key
Why a peaceful setting? First, your baby is more likely to calm down if they can feel at peace. They’ve been experiencing all kinds of new stimuli through out the day and so it is helpful for them to have the stimuli turned off such as lights and the TV. If you can just sit and cuddle your baby with as little stimuli as possible it will help them. Sometimes this may be hard to do when your baby keeps crying, but don’t give up. Second, a peaceful setting not only helps the baby calm down, but it can help you the parent to feel calm while dealing with a crying baby during the witching hour.
Witching Hour Tip #4: Slings and Wraps
One week when I was out of town my wife put our son in a wrap to hold him close to her during the witching hour. Having him close to your chest helps in drowning out the stimuli and simulates being in the womb as you walk around. Another helpful thing my wife did for her sanity was to put headphones in her ears to listen to music. This helped in drowning out the crying and offered my wife some peace. Don’t feel guilty if you feel like headphones will help your sanity. Your baby will still be fine and your sanity will more likely stay intact.
Witching Hour Tip #5: Share the Burden
Nonstop crying from a baby can be taxing on a parent. Don’t be afraid or hesitate to let your spouse know that you need a break. Often when I was trying to calm our newborn baby down during the witching hour I had to hand him off to my wife because the constant crying became too much. My wife often had to hand him off to me too. Having someone who can help share the burden is a life saver.
Witching Hour Tip #6: Go Outside
If the weather isn’t bad, take your baby outside in a stroller, a wrap, or a baby carrier. Often babies like to be outside and for some reason this calms them down. Not only may it help your baby, some fresh air may help you as well.
Witching Hour Tip #7: Hugs, Singing, and Rocking
Giving your baby hugs, singing to him, and rocking him all may seem like it’s not helping as he continues to scream and cry. Even though it may not seem like it’s helping it’s not hurting either and your efforts are reassuring to your baby. All this may seem futile, but don’t give up or don’t feel guilty if you’re feeling frustrate that your hugs, singing, and rocking are not being received well.
Witching Hour Tip #8: Give your Baby a Bath
Most babies find warm baths to be relaxing and enjoyable. The warm water is likely to remind them of the womb. As you bath your baby, pour the warm water over his body while you talk or sing to him. I personal found that doing this really helped my newborn calm down during the witching hour. If your up for a bit more work, prep the bath so you and him can get in the bath together for some skin to skin contact. Skin to skin contact is encourage for newborns as it helps with bounding between baby and parents. A bath will be not only be relaxing for the baby, but for you too.
Witching Hour Tip #9: Feed your Baby
Babies are growing and going through developmental stages which may cause your baby to be hungry. The growing, developmental stages, and hunger all may be correlated with the witching hour. So try feeding you baby. This may help, if it doesn’t, don’t worry, just move on to another tip. After the feeding, don’t forget to burp your baby. Forgetting to do this part may cause gas which may make your baby cry more or spit up.
Witching Hour Tip #10: White Noise
I had a friend who said the only way to get his newborn baby to calm down was to put him in a baby carrier and then vacuum the floor. He said their house got vacuumed every night during the witching hour stage. You don’t have to run the vacuum for white noise, you can purchase a white noise machine as well as download white noise apps to your phone.
There may be nights when some of these tips work and then the next night it doesn’t work. You may also find that non of these tips work very well. If that’s the case don’t get too discourage. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the witching hour is a stage and this crying and screaming stage will eventually come to an end.
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