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Infants get cranky, and it is unpredictable most of the time. New mothers have to learn the art of taking all that crying with a pinch of salt. They must understand the innumerable moods of the little one and work with what little information is available to help decode baby’s dispositions. One of the many trying things about the first few months with your infant is something known as witching hour in babies. Here we discuss what witching hour is, what are the probable causes, and how you can deal with it.
What Is a Witching Hour?
Witching hour also known as an arsenic hour is the time from late afternoon to late evening when infants tend to display fussy and cranky behaviour. It earns its name from European legends that describe witching hour as the hours when monsters, ghouls and other eerie creatures are at their powerful best. Witching hour in infants can be a deceptive term because the duration of crying and restlessness can last for up to 4-5 hours. During this time, infants can be very difficult to console or soothe. The infant may or may not want to feed, may find it difficult to fall asleep, and will seem tired and restless.
When Is the Arsenic Hour?
Witching hours or Arsenic Hours are usually considered to be between 5 pm to 12 am when the infant cries for durations lasting 30 minutes to a few hours.
When Do Infants Grow out of the Witching Hour?
Witching hour begins for baby at around 2-3 weeks after birth and crests by the eighth week. The positive thing to remember that this is not a phase that lasts forever and eventually the baby grows out of it. You will find that witching hour for baby ends at around 4 months for most babies while some grow out of it at the end of five months.
What Causes Baby Witching Hour?
Several reasons have speculated to cause the crying and fuss during witching hours. It often leaves new mothers confused themselves. Here is a list of probable causes:
If your infant has been crying inconsolably for hours, it could be possible that the baby is suffering from colic. Infants anguished by colic make intense noises while clenching their fists. They also arch their backs and have a sensitive, reddish face when they cry.
Fatigue is one of the principal reasons for your infant’s evening fussiness. A bad sleep routine could prompt fatigue. If the little one skips sleep frequently, the amassed fatigue can kindle cranky behaviour, leading to wailing during the witching.
3. Lack of Attention
The absence of attention could be an important reason for the baby’s nighttime wailing. Ultimately, even though you may think they are too small to feel it, infant sense separation in a heightened way! Late afternoons are busy for the entire household. Your spouse may return from work, the elders get together, and you have to complete daily chores too. All these chores can take attention away from your baby.
Excessive noise, light and activity during the day can cause excess stimulation for baby. This makes them fussy by evening, and they could end up being exhausted by the hyper-stimulation during the day or miss it and be annoyed at the stillness of the night.
Babies tend to ‘cluster feed’ after dusk. Cluster feeding indicates that babies feed recurrently and far more frequently than compared to the rest of the day. Occasionally, infants feed even once each hour. This enables them to sleep for larger durations at night. Babies that cluster feed tends to sleep their longest stretch after their feeds. Sometimes, witching-hour cries could be to initiate feeding.
6. Stomach Problems
Flatulence, gas, or constipation may be a cause for excessive crying during the evenings. A breastfed infant could be troubled by something the mother ingested during her meal. Caffeine, carbonated drinks, chillies, and potatoes can cause the baby to become flatulent and gassy. It is best to watch your diet while breastfeeding.
Infants take some time to adjust to the world as they have been so comfortable inside the uterus. Therefore, infants can be overwhelmed by sensations of sight and sound as they try adjusting to the bright and noisy world outside.
Tips to Cope With the Witching Hour
Here are some baby witching hour remedies that you could try out:
1. Accept the Inevitable
Accept that the arsenic hour is inevitable in the infants first few weeks. Remember, though, that it too shall pass.
2. Make Yourself Comfortable
Take time to relax, finish daily chores on time, and snuggle with your baby. When you are comfortable, your baby will be comfortable.
4. Stay Calm
When the mother feels anxiety, inevitably it passes on to the baby. Stay calm through your infant’s storm.
5. Engage Your Baby
Keep your little one occupied. Talk to them, play some music, or even play peek-a-boo.
6. Make Quiet Time
Disengage from the world, find a quiet, dark room and feed your baby and cuddle with them.
7. Give Them a Bath
A warm tub of water and mommy’s reassuring hands can relax your little one and help them fall asleep better.
8. Comfort Feed Your Baby
Even if your baby is not hungry, the breast can sometimes provide the warmth and comfort that your baby needs to get through the witching hour.
9. Burp Them
Trapped gases could cause discomfort. So, burp your baby after every meal.
10. Use White Noise
Download white noise applications or use the sound of the fan to soothe your infant.
11. Play Music
Music can soothe the baby and help them fall asleep. Try different kinds of music at low volume until you find one that you both enjoy.
12. Offer Something to Eat
If the baby has begun solids, offer bits of snack to make them feel better.
13. Observe for Early Hunger and Sleep Cues
Watch for finger-licking, rubbing of eyes, etc. that indicate sleep or hunger and remedy them before they get out of hand to help in the soothing baby during the witching hour.
14. Prevent Over-Tiredness
Make sure that the baby gets to sleep sufficiently during the day to prevent tiredness at night.
15. Work with Your Partner
Make sure that you work with your partner and take shifts on chores so that you don’t wear yourself thin and are available for baby as often as possible.
Could It Be Colic?
Colic is one of the several reasons that make an infant cry for extended periods. A confusion on baby witching hour vs colic can be clarified by knowing that colic is accompanied by lengthy periods of forceful crying in usually healthy babies. The cause is relatively unknown but associated with gas and flatulence in babies. Witching hours, on the other hand, can be a result of tiredness, fatigue or any of the other causes mentioned above.
Whatever the reason for your baby’s restlessness, remember that once this phase is over, you probably won’t even remember how terrible it was. All you want to remember is that innocent smile and those tiny fingers and toes. So, keep calm and be an awesome mom.
Also Read: Baby Whining – Causes and Tips