Witching hour for babies: What it means and how to cope – BabyCenter

The baby witching hour is a period of time in the evening when newborns are particularly fussy, and may cry for hours. Luckily, this is temporary: Crying usually peaks when a baby is between 6 to 8 weeks old and declines by 3 to 4 months old. There are many causes for the baby witching hour, including overstimulation, tiredness, an inability to self-soothe, hunger, and colic. Holding and rocking your baby, playing white noise, and using a pacifier can help soothe your fussy baby.
The baby witching hour refers to a period of time in the evening – usually between 6 p.m. and midnight – when newborns are notoriously fussy.
Crying is normal: It's your baby's way of telling you that they're hungry, or tired, or simply want to be held. In the first six months, most babies cry for 45 minutes to 2 hours every day, whether they're breastfed or bottle-fed. Crying tends to be most intense at around 6 to 8 weeks and declines by the time a baby is 3 to 4 months old.
In newborns, fussing and crying often peaks in the evenings. Causes for the baby witching hour may include:
Baby witching hour fussiness and crying usually peaks at 3 hours per day when a baby is between 6 to 8 weeks old. It usually declines to an hour or two by the time they're 3 to 4 months old, although it can sometimes last until a baby is 6 months old.
Know that this early period in your baby's life is incredibly challenging – especially since you're not getting enough sleep – but that it will pass. In the meantime, the below tips can help ease crying and soothe fussiness during the baby witching hour. And if you'd like more guidance from a pediatric sleep doctor on how to calm a fussy newborn, check out Baby Sleep 101, our premium class from BabyCenter Courses.
It's perfectly normal if your baby's crying makes you stressed or frustrated – especially if your baby won't stop crying and you've tried everything.
It's important to take care of yourself. If your baby's crying is getting to you, it's fine to put them in a safe place (like their crib) and let them cry for a bit. Take a few minutes to calm down and call a friend, family member, or parenting hotline like the National Parent Helpline at 1-855-427-2736. Don't hesitate to ask for help from your partner or another loved one, too.
Shaken baby syndrome often occurs in response to a baby's crying – their caregiver becomes overwhelmed or angry and shakes them violently. Make sure that anyone who cares for your baby knows that if they ever feel close to losing control, they should put your baby someplace safe and step away for a few minutes.
Was this article helpful?
BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.
Nationwide Children’s. 2021. Calming a Fussy Baby. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/health-wellness-and-safety-resources/helping-hands/calming-a-fussy-baby [Accessed July 2022]
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Undated. Cluster Feeding and Growth Spurts. https://wicbreastfeeding.fns.usda.gov/cluster-feeding-and-growth-spurts [Accessed July 2022]
American Academy of Pediatrics. 2022. Colic Relief Tips for Parents. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Colic.aspx [Accessed July 2022]
American Academy of Pediatrics. 2022. How to Calm a Fussy Baby: Tips for Parents & Caregivers. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Calming-A-Fussy-Baby.aspx [Accessed July 2022]
La Leche League. 2019. Fussy Evenings with a Newborn. https://www.laleche.org.uk/fussy-evenings-with-a-newborn/ [Accessed July 2022]
Mayo Clinic. 2022. Colic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colic/symptoms-causes/syc-20371074 [Accessed July 2022]
Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Growth Spurts & Baby Growth Spurts. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22070-growth-spurts [Accessed July 2022]
National Health Service. Undated. Growth and Appetite Spurts in the First Year. https://www.iow.nhs.uk/Downloads/Health%20Visiting_School%20Nursing/GROWTH%20SPURTS%20AND%20LEAPS2.pdf [Accessed July 2022]