Are you having a real problem with the witching hour in your home? I don’t mean the midnight witching hour either. I’m talking about newborn witching hour. That time at the end of the day when your baby is overly fussy, but no matter what you do to help, it doesn’t work. Often, this is your baby’s way of letting you know that they’ve had too much stimulation during the day and are overly tired. Let’s break down this issue and how you can go about putting an end to it for you and your baby.
Newborn Witching Hour
Stimulation is good for your baby. It’s vital for their development. You want to talk to your baby, make funny faces, play music, read stories, and incorporate play into your baby’s young life. These activities are all great, but sometimes there can be too much stimulation. For some parents, you may think that you do your best to try to keep your baby away from most of the constant activity in your home. What you may not realize is that although your baby isn’t participating in it actively, they’re like little sponges soaking it all up. This behavior can lead to overstimulation of your little one where they enter into the witching hour at the end of the day.
What Exactly is Overstimulation?
It can be pretty hard to stop overstimulation if you’re not sure how much stimulation is too much. Since your little noodle is still growing and maturing, not all of your baby’s systems are ready to handle the bombardment that we take for granted. Their nervous system is not prepared to regulate all of the stimulation that they are getting, especially those that were born prematurely. The television, ambient noises, siblings, pets, and even you may be creating more stimulation than your baby can handle leading to this fussiness at the end of the day when the baby is pretty much at the end of what they can handle.
Signs the Witching Hour is an Issue
There are definite signs that your baby is overstimulated at the end of the day. You’ll notice that your baby has a crankier mood where they may cry more than usual. They may turn away from you or avoid eye contact. They may kick their legs or clench their fists while moving in a jerky fashion. You may also notice what seems like signs of gas, such as arching of the back or bring their legs upwards.
In fact, many parents may think that their baby has colic, gas, reflux, or gastrointestinal pain when it’s overstimulation because these signs can mimic the same symptoms your baby shows with these issues.
Plus, problems with sleeping can contribute significantly to the witching hour. A newborn requires a significant amount of sleep, and if they aren’t getting it, they can become overtired, especially after a day of overstimulation. There can be such a narrow period when your bundle of joy can drift to sleep quickly. Try to get your baby to go to sleep too early, and they might fight it. Wait too long, and you’ll be in the same boat as if you tried too soon. Your little noodle should only be awake for about 90 minutes at a time.
Handling the Witching Hour
Once your baby has entered the witching hour, there’s not much you can to do to prevent it. The best action to take when your baby is fussy and overtired is to bring them into a darkened room. Get them away from the lights and sounds. You may also want to swaddle your baby and gently rock or hold them securely, so they feel safe. White noise or a shushing sound can be beneficial here rather than talking to your baby.
Not able to take your baby into another space? Life happens, and when you’re dealing with a fussy baby, but can’t move away. It’s beneficial just to turn down the lights and sound where you can.
Don’t forget to relax! It can be hard to force yourself to let go of the worry, anxiety, and stress that you’re feeling because of what’s going on, but your baby can sense how you feel and this can amp them up more.
Steps to Preventing the Witching Hour
There are also steps that you can take to work on preventing this occurrence.
- Work on reducing the amount of stimulation your baby gets during the day. Being exposed to lots of lights, noise, and people can be too much.
- Work on great sleep habits from the beginning. You want to create a sleep space conducive to sleep. A darkened room with white noise and their normal sleep surface is best for naps and sleeping at night.
- Continue the good sleep habits with a consistent bedtime. You want to aim for a window between 6:30 and 7 for your little noodle’s time for bed.
- In addition, you want to work on creating a beneficial routine for eating, playing, and sleeping. Your baby should be awake to eat and play for about 90 minutes, and then it’s time for sleep.
Have you been struggling with the witching hour or trying to get your baby on a good sleep cycle? Contact me today so we can discuss the best steps to move forward to give your baby the healthy sleep they need.