What Is the Witching Hour for Babies? Causes, Signs, and Soothing Tips

Ever wondered why your baby seems extra fussy during a specific time of day? You’re not alone. Many parents experience what’s commonly known as the “witching hour,” a period when babies become unusually irritable, often in the late afternoon or early evening.

Understanding the witching hour can feel like cracking a mysterious code. It’s that daily stretch when soothing techniques seem futile and cries intensify. While it can be incredibly challenging, knowing more about this phenomenon can help you navigate these tough hours with a bit more ease and confidence.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the Witching Hour: The “witching hour” typically occurs in the late afternoon or early evening and is characterized by inconsolable fussiness in babies aged two to three weeks to three to four months.
  • Recognizable Symptoms: Key signs include excessive crying, difficulty soothing, and physical indicators like clenched fists and arching backs, often linked to gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Biological Factors: Immature digestive systems, hormonal changes, and rapid brain development can contribute to a baby’s irritability during the witching hour.
  • Environmental Triggers: External stimuli such as noise, light, and disrupted routines can exacerbate a baby’s fussiness. A calm and consistent environment can help mitigate these effects.
  • Effective Soothing Techniques: Various methods like rocking, swaddling, playing soft music, and offering a pacifier can help calm a baby during this challenging period.
  • Creating a Calm Environment: Dimming lights, reducing noise, establishing a bedtime routine, and ensuring a comfortable room temperature help create a soothing atmosphere for the baby.

Understanding the Witching Hour for Babies

Defining the Witching Hour

The “witching hour” refers to a specific period, usually occurring in the late afternoon or early evening, when babies become inconsolably fussy. This timeframe often spans from 5 PM to 11 PM and can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Despite being well-fed, changed, and otherwise comfortable, a baby may still cry excessively during this period. This phenomenon primarily affects infants from two to three weeks old until they are about three to four months old. While the exact cause remains unclear, researchers suggest that this increased irritability could result from factors like overstimulation, fatigue, or digestive issues.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Recognizing the signs and symptoms helps identify the witching hour. The most notable sign is excessive crying, often lasting longer than other periods of the day. Babies may exhibit difficulty soothing, irrespective of various comforting techniques. They might also show physical signs like clenched fists, arching their backs, or pulling their legs toward their tummies, suggesting gastrointestinal discomfort. Frequent feeding attempts during this time could indicate that the baby seeks comfort rather than nutrition. Notably, these symptoms tend to wane as the baby grows older, usually diminishing by the time they reach the three to four-month mark.

Causes of the Witchish Hour in Infants

Biological Factors

Biological factors play a significant role in the witching hour for babies. For instance, immature digestive systems can cause discomfort and gas, leading to excessive crying. During this time, babies may experience colic, which presents as intense, unexplained crying bouts. Hormonal changes, like fluctuations in melatonin levels, can also disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to fussiness. Rapid brain development during this period might lead to overstimulation and difficulty in processing new information, resulting in irritability.

Environmental Triggers

Environmental triggers can exacerbate the witching hour in infants. External stimuli, such as noise and light, can overwhelm a baby’s developing nervous system. Activities in the evening, like family gatherings or loud TV, might overstimulate them, making it harder to calm down. A disrupted routine can also lead to increased fussiness; changes in feeding or sleeping patterns, for example, can prevent babies from feeling secure. Additionally, exposure to stress within the household, like parental tension, can lead to heightened distress. Creating a calm, consistent environment can help mitigate these triggers and soothe the baby during these challenging hours.

Tips to Manage the Witching Hour

Soothing Techniques

Implement various soothing techniques to manage the witching hour effectively. Hold your baby close, as physical contact often provides comfort. Use rhythmic movements like rocking or gentle swaying. Offer a pacifier to help with self-soothing. Sometimes, a warm bath can relax your baby. Create a soothing playlist with soft music or white noise to calm them. Try different burping positions to ease any digestive discomfort. Swaddle your baby snugly to recreate womb-like security.

Creating a Calm Environment

Creating a calm environment helps minimize overstimulation. Dim the lights to signal it’s time to unwind. Reduce noise as much as possible. Establish a consistent bedtime routine, including a warm bath, a lullaby, and a story. Ensure the baby’s room is at a comfortable temperature. Use blackout curtains to block light. Limit stimulating activities before bedtime. Simplify the baby’s surroundings by reducing bright, colorful objects. If possible, offer a quiet space where the baby feels safe and secure.


Understanding the witching hour for babies can be challenging but it’s a phase that many parents experience. By recognizing the potential causes and signs, we can better prepare ourselves to manage this period. Implementing soothing techniques and creating a calm environment can make a significant difference. Remember that this phase is temporary and usually resolves by the time your baby is three to four months old. With patience and the right strategies, you’ll navigate through the witching hour more smoothly and help your baby feel more at ease.

The witching hour for babies typically occurs in the late afternoon or evening when they become unusually fussy and difficult to soothe. This period can be challenging for parents, but understanding that it’s a common phase can help, as explained by Parents. Implementing soothing techniques such as swaddling, rocking, or a warm bath can help calm your baby during these times, similar to the strategies recommended by The Bump.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the “witching hour” for babies?

The “witching hour” refers to a period, typically between 5 PM and 11 PM, when babies exhibit excessive fussiness and crying without obvious reasons.

What causes the witching hour in babies?

Factors like overstimulation, fatigue, digestive issues, immature digestive systems, hormonal changes, and environmental triggers such as external stimuli and disrupted routines contribute to the witching hour.

How long does the witching hour last?

Usually, the intense fussiness of the witching hour diminishes around three to four months of age as the baby matures.

What are common signs of the witching hour in babies?

Prolonged crying, irritability, and difficulty in being soothed are common signs experienced by babies during the witching hour.

How can I soothe my baby during the witching hour?

Techniques include physical contact like holding and rocking, using gentle rhythmic movements, pacifiers, warm baths, and swaddling to comfort your baby.

Can creating a calm environment help during the witching hour?

Yes, dimming lights, reducing noise, establishing a bedtime routine, maintaining a comfortable room temperature, using blackout curtains, and simplifying surroundings can help reduce overstimulation.

Are digestive issues a major cause of the witching hour?

Yes, immature digestive systems are one of the prevalent causes, leading to discomfort and fussiness in babies during this period.

Will the witching hour stop as my baby grows older?

Yes, as babies grow and their systems mature, the symptoms of the witching hour generally lessen and often disappear around three to four months of age.