Ghosts, goblins, and spooky creatures of all kinds will roam the streets this Halloween – but maybe the scariest thing of all for new parents is the “witching hour.” Does the phrase send chills down your spine and make your hair stand on end? It doesn’t have to be that way!
As a mom, I remember the newborn days fondly. Hours spent snuggling on the couch, staring at my sweet baby’s face, tracing her tiny features over and over. Taking walks around the block with her on my chest, introducing her to this whole new world of ours. But as the clock inched closer to 7:30, my anxiety rose. Sometimes we would be cleaning up from dinner, or, let’s be honest, binge-watching a show on Netflix, and all of a sudden our sweet girl would begin to shriek. We could tell time by her level of despair. This tiny baby that was usually happy would become anything but.
I tried everything: nursing and rocking, swaddling, giving her a bath. My husband put her in the carrier and took her for walks. We sang and told her stories. Sometimes we begged her to stop crying. Nothing worked – it was like a switch had flipped. Eventually, I figured out that if I could hold and nurse her, while walking, singing, and bouncing (all at the same time), she would calm down enough to fall asleep.
Does this sound familiar? Are you as exhausted and overwhelmed some days as I was? Here are some things to keep in mind:
– It happens to everyone! You are not doing anything wrong, your baby is not broken, and no, you are not horrible parents. This is a normal thing that many babies go through! Try not to take it personally and remember that it will not last forever.
– Fussiness can peak around 6-8 weeks. It is so hard to listen to your newborn cry, sometimes for hours at a time. But, the upside (if there is one!) is that most babies will outgrow these crying spells by 3-4 months.
– You have a lot of tools at your disposal. Don’t get discouraged if the things you try aren’t working. What works for one baby might not work for another. And what works one week might not work as well the next. Come up with some ideas to help you stay calm in the moment.
– It’s not your fault! Lastly, remember that you are doing your best and sometimes babies cry. The witching hour can make you feel out of control. Your baby will make it through this, and so will you! You’re doing a great job!
Here are some ideas of things you can try when your baby is upset:
– Wear your baby in a wrap, sling, or carrier.
– Take a walk, even around the block.
– Nurse your baby. Yes, as much as they want. No, it’s not too much.
– Find someone to take over when you need a break.
– Try taking a bath together or having skin to skin time.
– Sing or hum to your baby.
– Take time for yourself.
– Remember the five S method: swaddle, shush, side lying, suck, and swing/sway.
– Go for a drive if that helps your baby sleep.
– Start bedtime routines earlier, if you have one in place.
Crying can be hard to handle, especially when it lasts for hours. If you are concerned about your baby’s crying being more than the normal “witching hour” fussiness, please contact your medical professional.