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The Baby Witching Hour: Why it Happens and How to Help Your Crying Baby

Updated: May 10

A screaming baby with red lines radiating out on an abstract background.

If you're the parent of a young baby, you likely know all too well the frustration that comes with what's known as "the witching hour"—that difficult time of day when your little one cries for seemingly no reason and absolutely nothing soothes them. It can be disheartening to feel so powerless to help your baby, but rest assured—this period is a totally normal part of child development!

This article will discuss some potential causes for the baby witching hour and offer tips on how to help your baby during this tough period.

In this article:

What is the witching hour?

What ages experience the witching hour?

Possible causes for the witching hour

Ways to help calm your baby

When to consult with your doctor

Surviving your baby's witching hour

Frequently Asked Questions

The Takeaway

What is the witching hour?

The "witching hour" is a period of time in the late afternoon or early evening when very young babies might be especially fussy and hard to soothe.

Most babies cry between 45 minutes to two hours per day during their first months of life, with their fussiness peaking in the evening. The timing of the witching hour varies by baby, but usually occurs sometime between 5:00 pm and 11:00 pm.

A concerned-looking mother holds a fussy baby.

This is a common phase for many babies—you aren't alone!

What ages experience the witching hour?

Babies might begin to experience the witching hour as soon as two weeks after birth. This fussy period usually peaks around six weeks of age.

Most babies outgrow the witching hour by the time they are three to four months of age.

However, every baby is different, so the timing and severity of the witching hour can vary significantly. Some lucky babies and parents never experience the witching hour!

Possible causes for the witching hour

There are a number of reasons why some babies might experience extremely fussy periods in the early evening hours, including:


When babies are exposed to too much sensory input, they can become overstimulated. This is especially common in newborns and young infants, whose developing nervous systems are still adjusting to the world around them.

Loud, sudden noises, bright flashing lights and too much movement, and crowded and chaotic environments can all cause a baby to feel overstimulated and distressed.

Evening can sometimes be a crazy time in a household as parents come home from work, older siblings return from school and activities, and everyone is in a rush to make dinner, complete household tasks, and prepare for the next day. This flurry of activity can be overwhelming for young babies.

Moreover, even normal things can be overstimulating to a baby’s developing brain. For example, as the brain matures a baby may become aware of feeling bored but not know what to do about it—so they cry!


A young baby yawns with closed eyes.