In the Classroom – The Witching Hour

December 2, 2020
In the Classroom – The Witching Hour

Many families will complain about a witching hour – a time in the late afternoon/early evening where their baby is crying, fussy and difficult to soothe. When a baby is overtired, their body – like ours – produces a variety of hormones to stay awake, and once a baby has these elevated levels, they are more difficult to soothe to sleep and more likely to have episodes of intense crying. By the time this happens, parents have missed the sleep window and accumulated sleep debt can have an impact on schedules and behavior.

Two of the most helpful suggestions you can make to families to manage the witching hour and set themselves up for night time success are:

  1. Try an early bedtime (as early as 5:45pm!) that doesn’t miss the sleep window. Help parents to notice early signs of fatigue and put their baby down as soon as those begin.
  2. Put their baby down drowsy but awake. When parents put their baby to sleep drowsy but awake, they give them a chance to learn to self-soothe and fall asleep independently. If babies don’t depend on their parents or any outside assistance to fall asleep, they will be less likely to need help in the middle of the night when they inevitably have multiple awakenings.