February 26, 2024

Navigating the Newborn Witching Hour

Navigating the Newborn Witching Hour

Are you currently experiencing witching hour?

Feel like no matter what you do, your baby turns into a symphony of fussiness and crying that you're unable to settle?

Let's dive into the world of the newborn witching hour, explaining why it happens and most importantly, what you can do to help!


The witching hour or more accurately hours, usually start between 2-3 weeks of age and subside around the 3-4 month mark, often peaking at 6 weeks. You'll find that your newborn transforms into a bundle of fussiness, often like clockwork each night between roughly 5:00pm and 10:30pm. During this period settling methods that bub would usually respond quite well to, will no longer seem to be working.


Here are some factors that can add to your bub being particularly upset during witching hour:

Evening feedings might be more frequent as babies often want to eat more during this time, this is known as cluster feeding. It is very common and doesn't necessarily indicate a milk supply issue so to the new mummas - don't stress!
As bub gets older cluster feeding will settle and they will be able to satisfy themselves off one big bedtime feed.

Newborn babies can very easily get overtired, particularly in the afternoon or witching hour period before bedtime. Once babies become overtired adrenaline and cortisol starts being released through their body, making it tough for them to calm down and want to sleep. To help avoid this, you want to be sure to follow age appropriate wake windows and also watch your bub's sleepy cues or tired signs.

Gas, feeding difficulties, and discomfort from potential intolerances or reflux can contribute to the witching hour. Techniques like burping, using a dummy or pacifier, and specific movements can help to alleviate these discomforts. Your bub's digestive system is still young and learning to adapt to digesting milk.

Life as a newborn is filled with so many new experiences and senses every moment of every day. It can be a lot for newborns and their immature nervous systems to process and they can become easily overwhelmed or overstimulated. Creating a calm space for them to wind down in can be really helpful. You can do this by dimming the lights, having less overwhelming noise and less people coming and going.


Dummy or pacifier:
A dummy can be great tool for helping babies calm themselves. Non-nutritive sucking promotes relaxation, often offering comfort to a fussy baby. Dummies should only be introduced once breastfeeding is established and shouldn't be offered in replace of feeds.

Swaddling provides a sense of security akin to the womb and can recreate the cozy and comforting environment that newborns are so used to. Be sure to practice your swaddling on a happy baby during the day and not during witching hour. If you're swaddling skills are as good as mine, you can always opt for something like the ErgoPouch Cocoon which is a life saver in the newborn days. 

Reduce stimulation in their environment by moving to a dark, cool room and playing some soothing music or white noise. This can help counteract the overstimulation as we mentioned above.

Replicate the comforting motion your baby experienced in the womb by holding them and jiggling ensuring you are holding their neck securely as you do or rocking or by safely babywearing.

Have a calming bath or shower with your newborn, the sound and calming nature of water can help to soothe and relax. It will also drop your newborn's body temperature, acting as a cue for sleep time.

Fresh air:
Sometimes stepping outside and getting some fresh can can be great for both of you.

Witching hour can be really tough sometimes, especially as you're still adjusting to newborn life. Asking your partner, family or friends for support during witching hour is a great idea, especially if you have other kids you are trying to entertain or get into bed.

Tackling the witching hour requires a mix of understanding, patience, and thoughtful strategies. If you can, try to think of these challenging moments as opportunities for connection and comfort with your newborn.

If you need some help navigating witching hours or navigating your newborn journey, we are always here to help.

  • Our Newborn Sleep Guide is perfect for helping you navigate those first few months.
  • Or if you feel you need more tailored support and reassurance have a look at our 30min Chat option. 
  • Not sure what is right for you? Get on the phone to one of our experienced consultants with our FREE 15min Discovery Call.