A Little More Wisdom

The Witching Hour is a fussy period nearly all babies experience at the same time every day from 4pm-midnight.

How Super Moms Weather Baby’s Evening Fussy Time

Written by Cathy Hale on November 14th, 2018

For most moms, the initial journey into motherhood is a wild ride. From the first positive pregnancy test to that moment you realize buckling a newborn into a 5-point harness system is no easy feat, there are plenty of twists and turns along the way.

In no time you get the hang of breastfeeding and burping and baby monitors and leaky boobs and poopy diapers, but coping with a colicky baby is one thing that can throw you for a loop. Baby’s long bouts of crying can really do a number on your emotional well-being.

What’s strange is moms around the world tend to report the same kind of behavior. Colicky and fussy babies tend to start crying in the late afternoon around 5 pm.

Then they may cry for 3-4 hours (or more) on end and nothing you do soothes them. This is known as the “witching hour.”

If it sounds unpleasant that’s because it is. The term “witching hour” came from European folklore and describes the time of day when evil beings like monsters, witches, werewolves and demons are at their most powerful as nightfall approaches.

Think about it this way: if thousands of moms are experiencing the exact same thing with their newborns, you aren’t alone. This is when you can rely on your instinctive “super mom” powers to weather the witching hour storm.

It is what it is

The first step you can take to harness your mommy superpowers is to recognize the pattern of crying. If it’s happening regularly, you may have that odd “deja vu” feeling. “Where did my happy baby go?” “Why won’t she stop crying?” This is good because you can now start to anticipate your newborn’s fussy periods and plan accordingly.

Don’t play the blame game

When your newborn is inconsolable for hours, it’s normal for your negative self-talker to conjure up feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worry, doubt, isolation and stress. Stop listening to those internal voices and reset your perspective. Remind yourself this is a normal phase of development in newborns. Don’t take colic or fussiness during the witching hour personally.

Power through it

The best thing you can do to weather the witching hour is to remain calm and stay focused on your job as a mom -- love, protect, nurture and care. Sure, it may not look perfect from a bird’s eye view if your red-faced newborn is screaming and crying for hours and you look like a frazzled zombie, but as long as she’s fed, clean, safe and healthy, everything is still okay.

It’s okay to safely walk away

Some days are harder than others with a fussy or colicky baby, especially if your baby’s witching hour lasts through the night. If you feel overtired, overwhelmed or defeated, it’s totally fine to put your baby safely in her crib and walk away. When it comes to baby care, safety outweighs mommy guilt. Being a good mom means being able to recognize when you need a break. Looking back, I wish I had taken this advice more often as a new mom. When enough was finally enough, I would walk away and turn off the monitor. It was the best I could do. Thirteen years later, my son is a perfectly happy, healthy and loving young man.

But why is this happening?

Despite your best efforts, you’ll probably keep playing the guessing game to figure out what’s causing this phase. There are lots of theories, although nobody knows for sure. It could be what’s happening late in the day – you’re busy welcoming home siblings from school or preparing dinner, so your newborn isn’t getting as much attention. She could be overtired or over-stimulated. She could be entering a new phase of development, which happens all of the time for newborns

Support your inner super mom

If evenings with your newborn are witchy, make the most of your mornings and afternoons. Try to get some exercise or do something enjoyable or relaxing. If you need an extra hand, dial up your support network and call in the troops to help you with your baby, so you can take care of yourself. Staying focused on your own well-being will help you power through these long nights and before you know it, everyone will be snoozing soundly. The witching hour always passes.

Do you remember the witching hour with your babies? Are you living through it right now? If you’ve got gripes or grins to share, let us know in the comments section on Facebook!