Crib Notes: Battling the Bewitching Hour
Many parents talk frequently about the dreaded “bewitching hours”: that period of time at the end of the day when their children are consistently less than angelic. For older kids, this makes total sense because we all know how fatigue at the end of a busy day can make anyone a complete grump (not that understanding, of course, makes them easier to deal with!).
But what about the bewitching hour for newborn babies who have been sleeping all day? Between weeks four and eight, most babies generally start to experience a bewitching hour. In fact, baby Bridget is dealing with this right now. It can be incredibly frustrating and worrying for parents as their precious little one becomes inconsolable, seemingly hungry off schedule and struggles with tummy problems. This is often called colic, even though baby shows no other signs of colic-type symptoms at other times during the day or night.
While nobody knows for sure what causes this, there are some leading theories and, most importantly, advice I can give you to help.
WHAT IS IT?
It is believed babies are dealing with two things during the bewitching hour:
1. After a full day of food, their immature digestive systems are struggling with a considerable number of ounces by this point of the day – 24 to 32 ounces.
2. Babies have an instinct to cluster feed. While this lengthens post-eating sleep time and eventually leads to the much-coveted full night’s sleep, it can create feelings of fullness and gas that is uncomfortable for their little tummies. Feeling hungry (from the instinct to cluster feed) but full and gassy at the same time would be uncomfortable for any of us!
WHAT TO DO
2. Minimize discomfort by getting the wind up. Be patient until you hear a burp.
3. Follow burping with holding your baby in a comforting position that is also calming for their belly (such as holding their belly against your chest) and then switch to their favorite position for falling asleep.
By rotating through these steps, eventually your little one will fall into a lovely deep sleep. If this process is overwhelming try to share it with your partner to give yourself a little break. And you, too, might want to consider going to bed at the same time so you can get the longest stretch of sleep that you can.
Good luck, and remember: the bewitching hour will pass!