Many parents wonder what happened to the baby that they brought home from the hospital just a few short weeks ago. Once your baby turns two weeks old you may notice a change in your baby’s behavior. If fact, it may seem as if your happy, content baby flipped a switch and is now constantly cranky, inconsolable, and crying uncontrollably during the late evening hours. This phase leaves many parents feeling very frustrated and overwhelmed. During this phase, many parents can’t figure out what is wrong with their baby and they don’t know how to make them comfortable.
Note: I am not a doctor, nurse, or health care provider. This post is for informational purposes only and never should replace getting your child medical treatment.
What is the Witching Hour?
This is just a phase that your baby is going through and it is often referred to as the Witching Hour. However, most babies cry and remain inconsolable for several hours. During an episode, your baby will not take a pacifier, shhing won’t make a difference, your baby won’t want to be laid down or held, feeding your baby won’t help, a bath might calm them down temporarily, or anything else that normally makes your baby content will not work. As a parent you wish there was something that you could do for your baby to make them comfortable. Remember that it is okay to take a parent time out if you need to in order to regain your composure. If you do take a time out, lay your baby in a safe spot such as in their crib so that they don’t get hurt.
What causes Witching Hour?
There are several reasons why your baby may become inconsolable. Nothing you do seems to make a difference and your baby refuses to stop crying. As a parent, you do your best to figure out why your baby is crying and do what you can to attempt to fix the problem.
- Colic – This is a term that is generally given to a baby who has uncontrollable crying during the first three to four months after a baby is born. Many people think colic is related to digestive issues and are caused by a variety of different reasons. If you suspect colic, notify your child’s pediatrician immediately to determine if there is a medical cause for your baby’s colic. Your child’s doctor can rule out the following problems that can cause your baby to have colic: intolerance to milk protein or lactose, acid reflux, muscle spasms caused by an immature digestive system, gas, sensitivity to their environment, or immature nervous system.
- Overstimulation - During the daytime hours your baby is watching everything that is going on and taking it all in. All of the activities, light, and noise that is made during the daylight hours can cause your baby to become over stimulated even if they aren’t directly participating or part of the activities. Most babies are curious about what is going on around them and it can even cause problems with their sleep habits. Sleep problems can lead to our next problem.
- Overtiredness – If your baby misses even a few minutes of sleep or they aren’t experiencing deep sleep patterns, it can cause your baby to become irritable. An overtired baby can become cranky and refuse to sleep because they are so tired. They will cry and cry until they finally fall asleep. However, a baby that is overtired won’t sleep very well and may not sleep through the night.
- Wanting to Eat More – Many babies like to cluster feed in the later evening as if they are tanking up and storing milk so that they can sleep longer periods of time at night. Your baby will cry to initiate you to feed him or her more milk. Typically, this is seen more in breastfed babies because the milk digests differently than formula fed babies. However, a bottle fed baby still may want to cluster feed. Try offering your baby the breast or a bottle, even if they recently ate.
- Your Baby Wants Attention – During the evening, most moms are busy with their spouse coming home, older children, cooking dinner, trying to clean up the house, or dealing with other household activities. If you put your baby in a swing, bouncy seat, or on the floor, they may begin to fuss in order to get your attention. It is a known fact that as your are juggling your duties, you may not be focused on your baby and doing only what it takes to get other tasks accomplished. If possible, have your spouse hold your baby or wear your baby if possible.