We’re talking today about something that most of us parents have experienced ‘the witching hour!!’
It’s brutal. It’s intense. It makes us want to grab the nearest set of earplugs!!
As soon as you announce your pregnancy, people are tripping over themselves to talk to you about that lovely baby smell; those tiny bottoms; and how lovely it is when babies grip your finger. But hardly anyone ever mentions the witching hour, do they?
No one will warn you in advance, that each evening, your baby will use every ounce of his energy to cry very loudly, and that everything you try will simply make him cry louder. And the witching hour name is misleading, because it can last much longer than an hour!!
Some babies are unsettled for hours at a time during the evening. Many mums I chat to at my new mum and baby groups, regularly say it’s always at dinnertime that their baby is unsettled and cries for long periods of time.
Listening to your baby cry is a horrible experience. A baby’s cry is a very difficult sound to hear, and is deliberately designed to be disruptive, but when it’s your baby, it makes it so much harder to listen to. You may find yourself feeling panicked, stressed and even helpless as you listen to your newborn wailing. As you desperately try to soothe your child to no avail, you may find your mummy confidence dwindling.
Why not try these simple tips to help you cope with the witching hour:
The witching hour is going to happen. I’m sorry; every baby will have times in the evening where they are unsettled. So be prepared. Accept that the witching hour will be a part of your life, at least for a few weeks, but remember it doesn’t last long. If you spend each day hoping that there will be no witching hour, then it will be even harder to handle when it finally arrives. Accept it, and keep saying to your self it will not last forever!!! The witching hour will be a part of your life for a very short period, and then you can move on and forget all about its existence; well until baby number 2 arrives!!
Wear your baby in a sling!
A great way to help your baby hide away from stimulants, is to put him in a sling or wrap. Once they are held tightly against your chest, listening to your heartbeat and breathing in your scent, you may find that your baby is able to relax and you can still get on with other jobs, as your hands are free of holding your baby. If they are really distressed you can try taking a stroll around the garden, or simply move around the house, to help your baby feel comforted in the sling.
It is a horrible feeling when you cannot do anything to soothe your crying baby, but be reassured that they feel much better simply because you are with them. Cuddling, rocking and singing may all feel useless when they are still screaming, but you are helping them to feel secure and safe. Sometimes just giving your baby a cuddle is enough to calm them right down.
Skin to skin:
Skin to skin is great for helping you to bond with your baby, having a bath with your baby can help to calm them and the warm water may help to. Run a bath (not too warm), and then get in and have a cuddle together. Create a soothing environment, have the lights low, and play some calming music, you might also feel more relaxed. Be prepared though, babies are not the greatest bath companions because they do not yet understand society’s very important no-weeing-pooping-in-the-bath rule. Giving your baby a relaxing massage after the bath can also help sooth you baby.
Many mums rely upon Hoovers, washing machines and hairdryers as a way to calm a screaming newborn. Some babies are comforted by the white noise, and experts believe this is because the sound replicates life in the womb. There are even apps you can download to your phone that play white noise in the hope of soothing fussy babies.
In breastfed babies, the witching hour could be caused by hunger this can even be the case in formula feed babies. Newborn babies often cluster feed in the evenings, and this means you can spend hours in an on-again-off-again rut. It can be a frustrating time, but it’s normal. Sometimes it can feel like your feeding once every hour (or more!). It seems like as soon as they finish nursing, or taking a bottle, they’re crying for more within 30 or 40 minutes. Of course, this can be frustrating for parents, but experts state that babies may need to do this in order to sleep longer stretches at night.
Often, babies who cluster feed will have their longest stretch of sleep after their cluster feeds are over. Your baby may also be going through a growth spurt or developmental leap that necessitates extra feeds; so always offer feeds on demand to breastfed babies. If it works, it works – if not, try something else.
Colic can cause long periods of intense crying in otherwise healthy babies. Around one in five babies suffer from colic, so there is a chance this could be causing your otherwise contented baby to cry all evening. Colicky babies have very intense cries, and may arch their backs, clench their fists and draw their legs up. Unfortunately, there’s no known cause of colic. Lots of people theorize that colic is somehow related to intestinal troubles — gas, indigestion, etc. The theory is that gas and indigestion cause abdominal pain, and that’s what makes our newborns cry so inconsolably. If you think your baby may be suffering from colic, speak to your health visitor.
Never forget that although Parenthood can be painful at times, it is also so beautiful!!