The Witching Hour

There’s a point in the day when I think everyone — adults and children — has had enough. We’re tired, a little cranky, maybe a bit hungry and just a little off. For me personally, it’s about 4:30 p.m.

When my daughter was an infant this witching hour took place about 8 p.m.every night. We literally could set our watches by it. She’d get fussy and just cry for 20-30 minutes. As a new mom, I was beside myself. Why was she crying? She wasn’t hungry or didn’t need a diaper change. She had been sufficiently burped. It wasn’t bed time. What was going on? Was I doing something wrong? I didn’t know what to do! 

At first, it made me cry, too. And of course it didn’t help that my hormones were raging. Luckily I had a dear friend — who happens to be a nurse — tell me that this was totally normal and most kids will go through a “witching hour period.” She also said it would go away. That helped to know I wasn’t the only one experiencing this.

My husband seemed to understand and figured out how to help. First, he’d take the baby (because I seemed to be making matters worse by getting upset). Next, he swaddled her tight. Then he’d turn off all the lights, hold her like a football, let her suck on his pinky finger and slowly walk and whisper to her. It worked — almost every time!

Initially I felt like an incompetent mom. But I quickly learned I didn’t have to do it all and that my husband could care for her just as well, if not better at times, than I could. If you are experiencing the witching hour, know this too shall pass. There’s no right or wrong way to get through this period of time. I think it’s all trial and error. But if you keep trying different techniques, (the 5 s’s may provide you with a good foundation: swaddling, shushing, side/stomach position while you hold the baby, swinging, sucking) you’ll find something that works for you and your baby. Unfortunately our children didn’t come with a set of instructions, so it’s up to us to figure them out. And with time, you will.

–Sara Locricchio, Parenting Program Volunteer

1 Response to “The Witching Hour”

  1. 1 Becky Bibbs October 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Colin’s witching hour was around 10 p.m. We tried doing the Happiest Baby techniques, but the only thing that would soothe him during witching hour was bouncing. I’d sat on a birthing ball a lot during my pregnancy, so that’s what he seemed to be missing. My husband or I would sit on the ball holding Colin while bouncing for 20-30 minutes. Talk about a good leg workout! We even have a video of my 6′ 3″ dad bouncing on the ball with Colin.

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