The "witching hour" is what my mom calls it.....that span from 4pm-7pm when babies just fuss and complain and want to be held nonstop.
Why does this happen?
During the first few months of life, babies can be very fussy right around dinner time. Some studies say that this is because young infants become overstimulated very easily and that by the late afternoon they are just completely exhausted from the day. Others hypothesize that this is one of the most energy-filled times of the day. Partners are coming home from work, siblings are home from school, dinner is being made, the TV might be on....that is a lot of commotion for a baby to process. For breastfeeding moms, excess breast milk that accumulated while "sleeping" at night has dwindled and now the baby is removing the milk as it is being made, which may slow down the flow of milk. Lastly, babies are fussy during these hours because they want to eat....they are trying to load up on calories, so that they can sleep for a longer chunk of time at night.
What can I do to get through it and still keep my sanity?
1. Breastfeed often. Lots of small meals during these hours may equal one large feed, which will allow your baby to hopefully sleep a little bit longer.
2. Wear your baby. My son hung out in a baby carrier from 4-8pm every night from 6 weeks until 3 1/2 months. This way, I could bounce him, sing to him, soothe him, and feed him while still preparing dinner, eating dinner, and bathing my older son.
3. Prepare dinner in the morning. Babies are usually calmer in the morning before overstimulation sets in. Use your crockpot, make casseroles and chili, make larger portions and freeze the left-overs. This way, dinner is one less thing you have to think about during your baby's fussy time.
4. Take a breath. Your baby's late afternoon fussiness should subside between three and four months of age. Then she/he will begin to enjoy attention and engagement during these hours.