How to Cope With The Baby Witching Hour

Updated May 17th 2023 | timer 7  min read

How to Cope With The Baby Witching Hour
Mandy Treeby

Written By Mandy Treeby Chief Baby Sleep Consultant

You may have heard of or experienced “The Witching Hour.” It’s the pre-bedtime period when your baby may be upset or fussier for no apparent reason. It’s completely natural and normal and, thankfully, temporary. And, yes, there are ways to manage it without losing your cool.


Here we’ll answer your questions about the witching hour in babies, including what causes the witching hour, how long does the witching hour go on, and how to minimize the witching hour in babies.

For additional sleep support and helpful insights to reduce pre-bedtime rebellion, check out the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ app. Co-created with baby sleep experts and parents, it’s packed with everything you ever wanted to know about your baby’s sleep development and how to help them learn to love sleep for years to come.

What is the Baby Witching Hour?

The Baby Witching Hour is a time in the evening when babies become fussy and difficult to console. It usually starts around 6 p.m. and can last for a few hours. The exact reason behind this phenomenon is not fully understood, but it could be due to overstimulation, tiredness, hunger, or discomfort.

When Does the Witching Hour Happen?

The witching hour can start shortly after birth, but most often “strikes” around the three-week mark, peaks around 6-8 weeks, and tapers off by 4-6 months. That may seem like a long time, but there are ways to manage and minimize the witching hour in babies.

Why Does the Witching Hour Happen?

There are a few reasons your baby may rebel or protest during the witching hour:

  • Your Baby’s Over-Tired: Being overtired can cause your baby to become fussier. If you’re experiencing this, read up on adjusting naps and nap transitions . That may help, especially at the end of the day.
  • Your Baby’s Over-Stimulated: Note the witching hour can start around 5pm, right around the time parents or caretakers return from or log-off from work. This sudden shift in mood and activity can be exciting for children - their parents are home and all theirs! - which can contribute to witching hour fussiness.
  • Slower Milk Flow: If you’re breastfeeding, your milk flow may be lower at night. This means your baby may have to work harder to get as much milk, which can be frustrating.
  • Your Baby Has Gas: Sometimes gas or indigestion can contribute to witching hour upsets.
  • Your Baby’s Having a Growth Spurt: Your baby is growing all the time, and very fast. But there are also periods when they’re growing even faster. Those are around 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. This can be uncomfortable for your baby and that may result in extra fussiness.

How to Reduce Witching Hour Fussiness:

Advice from parents and sleep experts on thriving through the witching hour:

1. Get Close:

Sometimes simply carrying your baby in a carrier or wrapping them skin-to-skin can help settle them during the witching hour. As parent Naomi P. says, “Baby wearing in a wrap works wonders ---just in the house or for a walk around the neighborhood!” And Rochelle R. agrees that babywearing is a great go-to, but also recommends “going outside or otherwise changing the scenery” to reduce witching hour fussiness. Also, she recommends “lots of deep breaths” - a tip that works in many other parenting scenarios, too!

2. Go Outside:

As Aryn H. said, fresh air and activity outside can relax your baby or help them work off excess energy before settling down for bed. That was Britney S’s experience. We asked her how she dealt with the baby witching hour; her enthusiastic reply: “Anything outside: The park or playground. A hike, or just the backyard. Rain or shine, it always seems to help in some way.” Plus it helps teach your baby about the world around them.

3. Dance Party!

While pre-bedtime routines should be tranquil and calm, it’s totally cool - and advisable - to work out witching hour energy with an afternoon dance party at home. “Turning on Music-works 100% of the time. Sometimes we have dance parties.” Says Autumn W. “And Art works great too!” The goal is to rechannel their energy.

4. A Warm Bath:

This may already be part of your bedtime routine, and if so, we recommend keeping that rhythm. If it’s not a bath night, though, an extra rub-a-dub in a warm tub can help relax and calm your baby during the witching hour. Madison K. recommends adding some bubbles and coloring to the water to make the witching hour bath a bit more unique/distracting.

5. White Noise or Soothing Noises:

Another bedtime routine staple, noise machines work any time you want to create a tranquil, placid environment for you and your baby. There are also many other “colorful” noises that can help soothe your baby. For more on that topic, read our article on noise machines.

Regardless of how you cope with the baby witching hour, the key is to help refocus your baby's energies onto something creative, energetic, or tranquil. Fighting the witching hour is an uphill battle. It’s a natural part of your baby’s development and, yes, it will pass. Until then, know that we believe in you!

Minimizing the Witching Hour is About Redirection

You may have noticed a theme – minimizing the witching hour is all about refocusing your baby’s energies something creative, energetic, or tranquil. Fighting the witching hour is an uphill battle.

As frustrating as the witching hour may be, it’s a natural part of your baby’s development and, yes, it will pass. Until then, we believe in you! Seriously. The fact that you’re here speaks volumes about your commitment and caring nature. You’ve got this 100%.

Is the Witching Hour the Same as Separation Anxiety?

No, the witching hour and separation anxiety are not the same.

While the witching hour may be caused by many different factors, separation anxiety in babies happens when they understand object permanence: the concept that people and objects still exist even when out of sight.

Like sleep regressions, separation anxiety in babies should be celebrated as a milestone – and then minimized. But, as with sleep regressions, there are ways to help your baby with separation anxiety.

If you’d like or need additional support helping your baby settle before bed, and stay asleep at night, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ . It’s designed to help babies and caretakers of all ages learn healthy sleep habits that build happier, healthier days for years to come.


How can I help my baby sleep during the witching hour?

A warm bath, a walk around the neighborhood, or even a mini-dance party can help “break the spell” of a witching hour, dispel excess energy, and help your baby settle before their bedtime routine.

How long does the witching hour last?

The witching hour can start around 3 weeks, peak around 6 weeks, and wrap up around the 4-month mark – that said, there are ways to minimize the witching hour. Also, starting sleep coaching at 4 months can help your baby overcome the witching hour.

Why do babies have the witching hour?

There are many theories about why babies get the witching hour, including the excitement of the end of the “workday”, gas, or your baby is overtired.

Does the witching hour happen every night?

No, the witching hour does not always happen every night. One night your baby may be fussy, the next not.

How We Wrote This Article

The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.


“Newborn Sleep: Patterns, Interventions, and Outcomes,” Pediatrics.

“Preventing and Treating Colic,” Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology.

“Witching Hour is the Worst – Here’s What You Can Do About It,” Healthline.

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