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What Is Witching Hour and How Do You Manage It? 

You might have heard of witching hour, but what is it?  

From the common causes of witching hour to tips on how to prevent it, find out everything you need to know below.  

What is witching hour?  

Witching hour is the period of time when your baby is unsettled, and no matter what you do, your child is inconsolable.    

Despite its name, your child might be unsettled for a few hours. Usually, witching hour starts in the late afternoon and continues into the early evening. Witching hour kicks in at around two to three weeks old and most children will stop around three to four months.   


What does witching hour look like?  

Below, find the common signs of witching hour: 

  • Cluster feeding. 

  • Clinginess. 


What time is witching hour? 

Witching hour usually occurs during the second or third week after birth and tends to take place when your little one should be settling down to sleep (from 5 pm until 11 pm). On average, witching hour peaks between six to eight weeks old.   

Witching hour is usually accompanied by colic (excessive crying).  


How long does witching hour last for babies?   

Witching hour usually lasts between 5 pm to 11 pm, when your little one should be settling down to sleep. Every child is different, and some will cry for longer than others.  


What causes baby witching hour?  

From overtiredness to silent reflux, there are lots of reasons behind witching hour. Below, find the most common causes. 



Overtiredness is one of the most common reasons behind witching hour. To prevent this, make sure your child has enough naps during the day and that you follow a calming bedtime routine to help them settle.  

Below, find the most common signs that your child is overtired: 

  • Crying or fussing. 

  • Yawning. 

  • Staring into space. 

  • Frowning. 

  • Catnapping. 

  • Sleeping at the wrong times. 

  • Waking more than usual through the night. 


If your baby is still overtired during the day, consider an earlier bedtime. 


An inability to self-settle 

Self-settling is when a child wakes up and falls back to sleep without assistance from a parent or caregiver. In the first few months, most babies will require hands-on help whether that’s shushing, rocking, or holding. 

Around the four-to-five-month mark, a baby’s sleep cycle starts to mature and this is a great time to encourage self-settling behavior. Without the ability to self-settle, your child is more likely to become tired and irritable.  


A growth spurt 

At around two to three weeks old and then again at three months old, babies have a growth spurt. This might mean your child is hungrier than usual and can lead to cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is when a baby feeds frequently, usually every 30 minutes to an hour, over a few hours. This is very common in breastfeeding newborns.  


Trapped wind 

Trapped wind is also a leading cause of witching hour. Every time your child feeds, they take in air, and if they’re not winded in between, this trapped air will continue to build. By the evening, your baby will feel uncomfortable.  

To reduce the risk of witching hour for this reason, make sure to wind your baby halfway through and at the end of their feeds. Tummy time is also a great way to get rid of excess wind. 


Lower milk supply  

As the day goes on, a mother’s milk-making hormone, prolactin, decreases. This means there is a lower milk supply - which might be why your baby is frustrated before sleep.  


Silent reflux  

Reflux, where stomach acid and milk come back up, is another common cause of witching hour. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes painful for your child.  



Due to the growth spurt discussed above, some babies struggle to settle because they’re hungry. Below, find common signs that your little one is hungry: 

  • Moving their mouth. 

  • Making sucking sounds. 

  • Licking their lips. 

  • Bringing their hands to their mouth. 

  • Rooting (turning their head towards anything that touches their face looking to feed). 

  • Clenching their fists. 


How do I stop my baby's witching hour?  

From establishing a calming bedtime routine to white noise, discover tips and tricks on how to stop witching hour below. 

Create a calming bedtime routine (and stick to it) 

A consistent bedtime routine will help your baby to understand when it’s time to sleep. This might look like reading a story, singing a lullaby, having a bath, or baby massage. Find what works for you and your family. Always follow safe sleep guidelines.  


Take your baby for a walk 

If your baby is struggling to settle, try taking them out for a walk if possible. Some fresh air might help to calm them. 


White noise 

Some parents and caregivers like to use white noise to calm their baby. White noise creates a masking effect, blocking out sudden loud noises which may disturb your child’s sleep such as the television, older siblings, or traffic outside.  


Some white noise machines can also create a sound like a heartbeat, which recreates the sensation of being in the womb. Always follow safe white noise guidelines.  


Common FAQs on witching hour    

From the differences between colic and witching hour to whether formula-fed babies have a witching hour, find answers to the most common questions below.        


Should I let my baby cry during witching hour?   

You can try to calm your baby during witching hour by creating a consistent bedtime routine, going for a walk, feeding them, or using white noise. Find what works for you and your family.      


Does witching hour mean colic? 

No, colic and witching hour are different. Colic is defined as episodes of crying and fussing for several hours for no obvious physical or medical reason. It usually happens for at least three hours a day across three days over a seven-day period.     


Do formula-fed babies have a witching hour? 

Yes. Both breastfed babies and formula-fed babies can experience witching hour, but for different reasons.  


At Love To Dream™, we know that every child is different, and we’re committed to helping you to find the right solution for your family. With you at every step, Love To Dream™ believes today’s little dreamers are the shapers of tomorrow. For further advice from our experts, visit our Sleep Library.