What is the Witching Hour
All parents can tell you about the witching hour.
My twins are currently 3 and my son is 5, and we still experience the witching hours.
My kids are tired from the day (even if they have a nap).
Tired, hungry, overstimulated kids are just cranky and need to be fed, cuddled, and put to bed.
It’s pretty much the same thing with babies.
The witching hour is a period of time in the evening/night when your baby won’t stop crying and cannot be consoled.
It’s different from colic, because colic tends to last all day, so when my twins experienced the witching hour, I tried really hard to be grateful that it only happened at night time.
But it was also the time of day when my 2-year-old was grumpy, I was trying desperately to get dinner on the table, and my husband was just getting home from work.
Nothing makes you feel like a failure more than someone arriving at your house when all of your children are m i s e r a b l e and dinner is burning away on the stove.
Many times I thought “ugghhh, we had such a good day and it looks like it was such a disaster!”
Solidarity, mamas (and papas), OK? Solidarity.
The witching hour is not your fault.
And, even further, if your babies are going through the witching hour, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it!
But, there are a few things you can do! Keep on reading and hopefully, you can find something in this post that works for your family.
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How Do You Know If It’s The Witching Hour?
The first hint is that your babies are generally happy throughout the day but as soon as the evening hits they are inconsolable.
The second hint is knowing that your babies aren’t hungry; they have clean diapers, and they aren’t sick.
If you’re confident that you’ve addressed all of those needs, then it is most likely the dreaded witching hour.
How to Get Through the Witching Hour with Newborn Twins
Prepare, Prepare, and Prepare Some More
Remember how I talked about going through the witching hour with my twins, a cranky 2-year-old, and dinner burning away on the stove?
Yeah, don’t be like me. Make smarter choices.
Haha, but I figured it out! Once I realized that basically from the hours of 5:00-10:00 were going to be pure chaos, I stopped counting on that time to get anything done.
Whenever your twins start their witching hour, plan on it starting earlier. My girls usually started their witchiness around 6:00 or 6:30, but sometimes it was 5:00.
I just planned on not being able to get anything done starting at 5:00, and if they were content, that was bonus time.
Basically, the main thing I needed to prepare was dinner. I utilized my slow cooker a TON during this season.
I would also prep one-pan meals during nap time. I’d chop the meat and veggies and assemble on a tray. I’d easily be able to leave a screaming baby for 45 seconds to throw it in the oven.
I also made sure that we also had plenty of food that could be thrown together in 5-minutes. Think chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, cereal, frozen vegetables, and bagged salad mixes.
If something happened earlier in the day (and mom life with 3 kids 2 and under, it’s bound to happen!) and I just couldn’t get to dinner, we had those meals that we could frantically throw together last minute.
The other thing I had to be prepared for was my toddler. If only he was as easy to prepare for as throwing dinner in the crockpot, haha!
What helped the most was spending quality time with him before the babies melted down.
We would read some books and do a puzzle together on most days. Those were his favorite things to do at that age.
If the babies were having a particularly rough evening, I would then put Theo in his high chair with an activity, such as a coloring book, play dough, or an electronic toy that was reserved for desperate times.
That way, he was contained and couldn’t get into trouble, and also I could make sure he wasn’t too close to the crying.
Being around constant crying is stressful to most people, but toddlers don’t recognize that it’s causing them stress.
Try to Soothe the Babies
1. Take a Walk in the Fresh Air
My girls were born at the beginning of February. Not only was it still pretty cold when we experienced the witching hour, but it was also usually already dark outside.
Needless to say, we didn’t get to utilize this option as I would have liked to!
However, fresh air can help tremendously! Even as an adult, my mood improves drastically when I get outside for some fresh air.
Bundle the babes up in a stroller and get out for a walk!
2. Go for a Car Ride
Oftentimes, the movement and white noise of a car can be soothing. I don’t suggest using the car ride as a method to get babies to fall asleep for regular nap or bedtime. But for the witching hour? Do. Whatever. It. Takes.
3. Implement the 5 S’s
The five S’s is a method of sleep training/soothing baby. It is from the book “The Happiest Baby on the Block.”
The 5 S’s:
- SWADDLE: Wrap those babies up snugly in swaddles.
- SIDE or STOMACH: positioning your twins on their side or stomach is the most calming. Yes, back is best, so make sure you are monitoring them!
- SHUSH: Using your voice or a white noise machine, you can mimic the sound that your twins heard in the womb. A vacuum cleaner or hair-dryer is the sound you are going for. If all else fails, you can download an app on your phone, but I highly recommend purchasing a white noise machine.
- SWING: The S for
swingis supposed to be you holding your baby (swaddled and on their side!) and gently swaying back and forth. Yeah. Try that with twins… not that easy, right? With twins, you can either alternate swaying with one of them and putting the other in the swing, or vice versa.
- SUCK: Sucking is very therapeutic to babies.
The 5 S’s is hard to manage if you’re on your own with two babies. You’ll have to vary it a bit to get it to work, such as using swings instead of swinging them in your arms.
4. Baby Wearer
Sometimes just holding and walking around with a baby is all it takes to soothe them.
This can be really tricky with twins, as your arms will go numb and your hands will feel like they’re about to fall off.
If only one baby needs to be held, you can wear one and walk around.
If both babies want to be held, a double baby wearer, such as the TwinGo can come in handy.
I never had any experience with the TwinGo because I didn’t even know it existed when my twins were infants, so I can’t personally speak as to whether or not it’s easy to use.
I have heard great things about it from the twin community though, and it does also work as two single carriers!
The swing is the one thing that sometimes worked to calm my babies. Sometimes.
I’d usually put white noise on next to the swing and put them in different rooms so they wouldn’t disturb the other one if they started to cry again!
6. Cluster Feeding
Even if your babies aren’t hungry, feeding can be comforting. We never did a cluster feed because Josie and Margo also had reflux, so feeding wasn’t comforting for them.
This goes with the 4 S’s… sucking can be extremely soothing.
8. Bath Time
Warm water can be very soothing and calming. I read this tip somewhere and tried it with my girls, but honestly, it just seemed to make them more upset.
It’s definitely worth trying if nothing else is working!
9. Gas Drops/Colic Calm
Using gas drops and/or colic calm can help if your twins are crying because they’re gassy or their tummy hurts.
I know it can feel awful to feel like you can’t do anything to comfort your babies.
If nothing you are doing is working, and they are still crying, make sure that they are in a safe spot, and walk. away.
Take some deep breaths. Make some tea or pour a glass of wine. Step outside in the fresh air. Eat some chocolate or cheese.
Do whatever it takes to get yourself into a better headspace. I mean, not whatever it takes, don’t take a nap or go for a drive without them. Whatever it takes within reason.
Were your twins premature? Here’s what to expect with Preemie Sleep.
If All Else Fails…
If all else fails, and you cannot comfort your babies, well? Sometimes you have no other option than to let them cry.
I seriously hate typing that, but it’s true.
There were many days when my husband came home from work to two babies crying in the swing because my toddler needed me for something.
Sometimes it was just that nothing I was doing was working. I thought, well, if they’re going to cry no matter what I do, I’ll just leave them in the swing while I plate up dinner.
I am by no means advocating for letting a baby cry who is hungry, sick, has a dirty diaper or just needs to be comforted. If you’ve followed my blog for any time, you should know that.
But oftentimes, during the witching hour, comforting a baby doesn’t work. And when you have twins, it’s even harder.
Always, always do whatever it takes to soothe and comfort your twins.
But if it doesn’t work? It’s not your fault. Do your best and know that it’s just a season and it won’t last forever!