24. The Witching Hour - How to console your baby when nothing seems to help
Is your baby having a total meltdown in the evenings?
You’re not alone. It’s called the “witching hour,” and while it sucks, I’m here to help you make it better.
Listen in to learn ways to make the witching hour a little less terrible!
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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION:
Let’s talk about the witching hour. Dun dun dun. Hey there friends. Welcome to the better postpartum podcast. I’m your host Angel Swan, crunchy mom, coffee addict and postpartum doula turned new mom, coach,
this podcast is your audio guide to not just surviving, but thriving during those early newborn days. If you want to care for yourself, your household and your baby with confidence, grab your earbuds because this is the only podcast that you need. So what do you say? Should we get started with today’s episode? Let’s do this. Hey, guys, this is take like 45 of this little snippet. I’m just gonna tell you where I’ve been for the last few weeks because I’ve been gone. I’ve been like Mia still helping my clients but not been on mine. And so we moved to a new home. And also I am rebranding. So I’m still in the process of that. But saying goodbye to postpartum companion and hello to Angel swan. It’s just me, you guys. Just me. And so I’m Angel swan. In case you didn’t know, I am a new mom coach. And I’m here to help you new moms or even seasoned moms who just have a new baby. I’m here to help you make time for self care. actually practice your self care, right? manage your households, nurture your relationships with your partner. and care for your babies with confidence. That’s what I’m here to do. So that’s what I’ve been up to. And I’m back. And I’m going to be once again rolling out podcast episodes every week. So if you are already, let’s just let’s just get into the episode. All right, here we go. Okay, so the witching hour. This is something that happens to most babies. And it’s very frustrating for everybody. It’s frustrating for parents, it’s frustrating for the baby, because they’re just going through something and mom and dad are stressed out because they can’t figure out what’s wrong with the baby baby doesn’t know what’s wrong, they can’t communicate. And it’s just like a vicious cycle of screaming, that’s usually like two or three hours long. But they can be sued. So there there’s the there’s a good thing there. So usually, babies will be super calm, very, very sleepy for like the first two weeks of their life. After those two weeks, though, they kind of start to wake up and around two or three weeks old, they will start experiencing the witching hour. So this has also been called purple crying. It’s basically babies crying at this time. And we don’t really know why nobody really knows why is likely just be a part of development, because it happens to pretty much all babies. breastfed babies a little bit more so and there’s like a theory that this is maybe because breastfeed breastfeeding moms like your letdown isn’t as forceful in that timeframe. So the witching hour, if I haven’t said it already happens typically between 5pm and 12am. They’re not necessarily going to screen for that whole stretch. But that’s usually like that’s like an average for when you might notice that they’re, you know, screaming their heads off for no good reason. So yeah, during that time, though, if you’re breastfeeding, your body is not really in production mode, that happens overnight while you’re sleeping. And you are going to be producing the most milk like first thing in the morning. So if your baby seems like they’re more content in the morning, and a little less content in the evening, that might be one of the things that’s going on. But like don’t beat yourself up about it, because it’s that way for everyone. And that’s just a theory. So nobody really knows why this is happening. It’s just a theory. Maybe it’s because of the letdown. So if you suspect that this could be part of your problem, right? Maybe the letdown is just a little bit slower. If you’re nursing, you can help stimulate the milk flow by doing just like a gentle breast massage, doing like a C hold or you hold on the breast and like kind of expressing a little bit with your hand as baby nurses. You could also apply heat before you nurse to try and get that milk flowing. Or, if your baby’s not actually hungry. You can offer them a pacifier. Maybe the pacifier will help them my daughter refuse to pacifier anytime you stuck one in her mouth. She would gag like you had to shove something all the way down her throat like full body gag. Now if they’re unhappy at the breast or Like because of the letdown situation, you can offer them a bottle. So if you’re breastfeeding pump a little bit, right? Have you have a little stash going for yourself and I’ve talked about before how to like collect milk and stuff like that. So, go back and listen, I think it’s um, I don’t know what number it is. But if you’re struggling to pump enough milk for your baby like that is the one to listen to. So
get yourself a little stash a little milk stash, even if it’s just a day or twos worth of milk, and give them a bottle during that timeframe during the witching hour, instead of putting them on the boob. Because if your milk isn’t flowing, like they want it to the bottle is going to get them the milk faster, it’s going to make them happier, a little bit quicker, and it might calm them down. But if they’re just looking to suckle and just want to be cozy, I don’t recommend just letting them sit there and do and do that because your nipples are going to hurt after a while not because you’re spoiling your baby, I don’t, it is not possible to spoil a baby this young, right until they’re about a year old. They’re not even capable of manipulating you in any way. So that’s not my concern. It’s more, it’s more just about your poor nipples. So if that’s the situation, if they’re just looking to suckle, then give them a pacifier.
take one for you. Mine did not like I said, but if you’re one of those lucky people, then pop the pacifier in their mouth and see if that’ll take care of it. So Oh, another thing to note, when if you do have to feed your baby a little bit more during this time, it’s not going to mess up your routine. And really, at this age, under three or four months old, your baby’s routine is going to be kind of all over the place, the best you can do is just gently guide them to do like an eat play sleep routine, or like an eat play, snack and sleep routine. So basically, when they wake up from their nap, you give them like five or 10 minutes to fully wake up. And then you feed them try your best to get a full feeding in if you have a sleepy baby. This might mean that you strip them down naked so that they stay awake and eat their whole meal. And then so that’s the E portion, then you move on to play so you do your best to keep them stimulated. This doesn’t mean that you have to be up in their face during the play routine, or the play part of the routine, I should say. So this could just be one of my one of my current clients. She’s sticking her baby in front of the bookshelf, and he just stares up and looks at all the books and it’s incredibly entertaining for him. The one thing I can say to help your baby get out a lot of energy is to try not to put them in like a bouncer or a swing during this time because it restricts our movement. You want them to have as much wiggle room as possible, quite literally, they need to wiggle, they need to kick they need to punch they need to move around. And that’s basically their little workout and it helps them get stronger and it also wears them out. So by giving them as much wiggle room as possible during their play time, right, then they’re going to sleep better. So watch out for their sleep cues, when they start to yawn with their mouth because like a little o or they’re kind of like Winkie guide, they’re ready to go down for a nap. Don’t wait until they’re crying. Don’t wait until they’re screaming to put them down. As soon as you see them start to yawn, you start your bedtime routine. If they’re still a little bit hungry, before they go down like my daughter for a long time, probably until she was like four months old, she needed to have a little top off before I put her down. So what I would do is just give her a little snack, then change her diaper. Give her some lavender lotion I’d put on her she loved that stuff. swaddle her up and rocker to sleep. So once you got your baby sleep, and you just let him sleep, that’s it, eat, play, sleep, eat, play snack sleep. That is the best way to guide your baby to getting like as much sleep as they need. And making their wake windows and their sleep windows like more effective, essentially. Because if you’re not, if you’re not guiding them in this in this way, eat play sleep, they’re just kind of going to snack whenever and it’s going to be harder for you to know what to expect from your day and it’s also going to be harder for your baby in terms of actually getting a restful sleep when it is time to sleep. Okay, so now that we’ve got our routine kind of figured out what can we actually do work during the witching hour to soothe our babies because they’re going nuts. Right? You’re probably stressed out, like I said, you know, you got to calm yourself down before you even go at trying to soothe your baby. So take some deep breaths, have a snack, if your blood sugar’s low, drink some water, and then go and help your baby out, right. So maybe you could try taking a bath together, right? Sitting in the tub surrounded by water, you can lay your baby on your chest, splash some warm water up on them a little bit.
It’s just like being in the womb for them taking a bath. It’s great, they love it. You could also like stand up in the shower with them, just anytime you take a bath with your baby, make sure that you have your exit strategy ready to go. So what I mean by this is, have all your towels ready have a place to set your baby down so that like when you turn to get out of the bath, you’re setting your baby down before you even start stepping out. This is a slippery situation, literally. So you don’t want you, you don’t want to be like trying to get out, you’re slipping all over the place while you’re holding your baby. So before you even get out yourself, set them down. So you need a place to set them down. And then have your towels ready to go have your clothes in there. Have a little towel to wrap your baby and when you set them down so they’re not cold, and then they start screaming again. And if you’re like standing up in the shower, just make sure that one you’re going to be able to hold on to a slippery baby. And so sometimes you might even just wrap them up in a little towel so that you can get a better grip on them. And then let the water run over you guys. That is a good way to make sure that you’re not going to be dealing with a super slippery little wiggle worm when you’re in the shower. My second tip is feed them if they’re hungry. So just because I told you earlier to try and give them a pacifier or try and give them a full bottle of full feeding to get them to calm down. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore them if they’re actually hungry. So when a baby is hungry, they might be like no, you know, a little a little a little with a little tongue. You can’t see me but you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve seen this, they’re all just kind of be licking, licking, licking. Maybe they’re sucking on their hand. Maybe they are rooting when you hold them on you. They’re rooting around, they’re bobbing their head looking for a boob to suck on. They’re hungry, right? If they’re crying, and it kind of sounds like or even Oh, wow, this is so awkward for me to do you guys, but if their tongue is touching the roof of their mouth when they are crying, so it sounds like a non non na kind of sound. They are hungry. So if your baby’s hungry, you should feed them because they’re not going to stop crying if they’re hungry. Okay. The next thing you can do is use motion. So if you’ve got all their other needs met, you know, and obviously check for the other things to write their diaper. Make sure they’re not too hot, not too cold, all the things you would normally do if they’re crying. These are just a little bit extra here. So use motion. Babies like to sway they like to swing. If your baby’s not going to sit in a swing, which let’s be honest, during this time, during the witching hour, they’re probably not going to want to be put down. Put that baby in a baby wearing carrier and go about your business. I promise you, they will be so thankful that you did that and you will be thankful to you’ll be like angel that was such a good tip. You’re so right. Why don’t I put my baby in this carrier more often. Rarely, you guys babywearing is like it’s a secret weapon. And I honestly feel like not enough people utilize babywearing. You just like let yourself get all stressed out like oh, I never get to put the baby down like Well, you know what that is how babies are? Tough Love you guys. babies need to be held. That’s it, period. So you need to get stuff done. I understand that. You need to wear your baby. You need to especially if you’re the only one who’s taking care of them, right. My husband before he was in car sales right now. He was a cook. He was a professional cook and he was gone. A lot, a lot. And so I was the one taking care of our baby full time. Had I get things done? Well, some days I didn’t. I just sat and I cried because Oh, I can’t do anything like I need to. I need to hold my baby all the time. And you know what’s so crazy is on those days, I could have just worn her in our wrap that we had. But for some reason I didn’t think about it. I was just Like, I don’t know, stuck in mom brain land somewhere not thinking about the fact that oh my gosh, I could just put her in this carry on, it’d be fine. And then other days that thought, put her in the carrier would cross my mind. And I’m like, you know what, I just try that today. And guess what, I got so many things done. And, and she stopped screaming at me. So get a carrier that works for you. Okay. Most of the time newborn that’s like,
I would say less than two months old, they’re not really going to go for the structured carriers, they say that you can use them. But in my experience with myself and most of my clients, newborns just don’t like the feel of those they prefer, like a stretchy wrap, like the Moby wrap, or they prefer to be worn in a sling. So just pro tip, but then if your baby’s a little bit older, you are going to be able to like move on to the structured carrier, it’s going to be a little bit easier on your back then like a sling would be because once they get a little too heavy, wearing them in a sling just really throws off your posture. So pro tip, pro tip pro tip. Okay, my next tip for you guys for getting through the witching hour is to just go for a walk, go outside, get some fresh air, it’s good for you both sunlight on your baby’s skin. Just being in the sunlight in general, it helps them to like regulate their circadian rhythm, which just means they’re going to be able to sleep more at night and be more awake during the day. Like you would hope that they are. That’s, that’s your circadian rhythm. It’s like when you’re when your body tells your yourself to like go to sleep. That’s basically what it is. I’m trying to just keep it as simple as possible here. So go for a walk, get fresh air, live a little bit of sunlight, come on in, hit, hit your baby’s skin, keep them nice and cozy. Obviously, if it’s hot outside, you can get one of those little fans. They’re so great. There’s like battery powered fans that you can clip onto your stroller. Those are great for hot day. But I promise you if you take your baby outside for a walk during this time, this is one of the best ways babywearing and taking them outside is so so so helpful. And my last tip for you is going back to the eat play sleep routine or eat play snack sleep routine. The more you can follow this routine, the happier your baby will be. Because they’re going to have a more restful sleep.
So you can try to prevent this extreme crying during the witching hour maybe alleviated a little bit by making sure that your baby is well rested by following the eat play sleep routine. Or eat play snack sleep because let’s be honest, babies especially breastfed babies, they love to have a little snack before going down to sleep. So if you’re following this routine, you’re guiding them. You’re helping them by encouraging a full feeding when they first wake up. You’re giving them wiggle room to exercise. You’re watching for their cues. You’re watching for the yawns you’re watching for maybe they’re getting a little overstimulated. If they’re overstimulated, then they’re probably getting tired, ready to go down. When they’re overstimulated, they’re gonna start like they just start screaming like out of nowhere. That’s usually your, your indicator. They were happy and then all of a sudden, they’re screaming. They’re probably overstimulated. So make the room quiet, maybe put on some white noise. swaddle them up, make it dark, put them to bed. You’re good. Okay. So just watch for their cues. And if you are not familiar with Dunston baby language, I highly recommend you go and look that up that’s Dunston baby language. D as in dog, u n as a Nancy S t a. N as in Nancy again Dunston baby language. It’s so helpful you guys and even if you just download like a little graphic to your phone that shows you the different sounds that your babies make is super helpful. But again, you can the so those are for the sounds right? But you just watch for the cues the yawning while Winky eyes watch and make sure like if your baby is starting to get sleepy that you put them down before they’re crying protip full of pro tips today, right? That’s why I’m here because I’m the pro and you guys need help. Right? Is that what this is about? That’s what this podcast is for. Right? I think so. Anyway, let’s just recap real quick. The witching hour starts around two to three weeks peaks at six weeks and resolves around three to four months of age. To get through it. You can try taking a bath or shower together feed them if they’re hungry or offer pacifier if they just want some comfort, use motion sway or swing or put them in a baby wearing carrier is probably your best bet go for a walk outside get some fresh air let the sun hit your face and follow the eat play sleep routine as much as you can. And yeah, that’s that’s the witching hour you guys I hope this was helpful if it was a please let me know you can send me a DM on Instagram. Oh, by the way, I rebranded so my Instagram my website, everything’s different. So Instagram at Angel dot Swann, remember to put the.in there or you’re not going to find the right person. You’ll see my face with my iconic glasses, right? My curly hair and I have a blue sparkly background. I think I’m going to keep up with a blue sparkly background. I really like it. But either way I have curly hair, and I’m super pasty white and I wear these really big glasses so you can’t miss it. Angel dot Swan is my Instagram handle. Or if you really love me, you’ll leave me a five star review with a written love note, if you will, I would superduper appreciate that. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to listen. I hope this was helpful you guys. I will see you on the next episode. Bye bye. Thank you so much for listening to the better postpartum podcast. Here’s what I want you to do next. If you loved what you heard today, Would you do me a giant favor and leave me a written five star review. Those little love notes that you leave are the perfect way to thank me for putting out these episodes just for you. Seriously, it would mean the world to me. Next, take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now and share it on your Instagram stories and make sure you tag me at Angel dot swan. That’s SW o n so that more moms can find this podcast and hopefully get the advice and encouragement they need to truly thrive with their babies. And don’t forget to come back every single week for more nuggets of wisdom, the truth bombs about the early motherhood journey. I’ll talk to you next time.