Witching Hour (or Arsenic Hour) refers to a baby’s unsettled, whingey time in the afternoon or evening. It can be quite stressful for parents as it usually coincides with the busiest time of your day and when your energy levels are at their lowest.
I have put together some of the strategies I use to cope with ‘witching hour’-which mind you, is never usually just an hour! Someone forgot to add the ‘s’ to ‘hour’.
- CLUSTER FEED: Often breastfed babies will want to feed more frequently during ‘witching hour’ because your milk supply is usually at it lowest between 3-6pm because you are most tired at this time of day. If this is what you are experiencing, ensure you drink enough and eat large meals so that your milk supply allows hourly or two hourly feeding. Personally, I find it helpful to do a top up feed with expressed milk or formula if my supply is not there. Cluster feeds help fill your baby’s tummy which often leads to a better sleep. It also helps to boost your milk supply.
- HAVE YOUR BABY NAP OUTSIDE: If you are finding that your baby just won’t settle during ‘witching hour’ I find it helpful to go for a walk with the pram. It’s amazing what a little fresh air can do for both mum and baby. I don’t recommend trying to settle your newborn baby for longer than 15 minutes before changing strategies, as their sleep window is only 1 hour at this age. If you are spending too long settling, it will result in your baby becoming overtired and therefore they will have a shorter than expected nap. Your baby may only sleep for 30-45 minutes but I always figure some is better than none, and this cat nap may just help you survive this cranky part of the day. Lack of day time sleep will also contribute to the likelihood of witching hour so this cat nap will help combat over tiredness if that is what your newborn is experiencing.
- PLAN: I find it takes a lot of stress out of ‘witching hour’ if I can get some help in the afternoon. This way, one of us can take care of the baby and the other can look after the older one. “Witching hour’ for us, is usually at the same time as my older child’s bedtime routine (dinner, bath, book). Attempting to do this while trying to settle a baby is difficult especially if you are trying to create a nice peaceful relaxing environment for your baby to sleep in. If I am able, I also try and get dinner sorted earlier in the day so at least this is ready.
- DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF: As a newborn baby, they are going to be unsettled during this time of day and sometimes nothing will soothe them. Make yourself a cup of tea, sit down and push them back and forth in a pram with a cover for about 3 minutes. The CoziGo cover is great as it blocks out 97% of light. Don’t worry your baby is still very young and this type of movement is OK for now at this young age in order to get you through this difficult phase. Especially if you have more than one child. The unsettled period should not take more than a week or 2 to pass.
Good Luck, Natalie x