Arsenic Hour SOS For Your Baby – 12 Tips To Cope

Arsenic Hour SOS For Your Baby - 12 Tips To Cope

Ah, newborn babies. As soon as you announce the pregnancy, people are tripping over themselves to talk to you about that lovely baby smell, those tiny bottoms, and how lovely it is when babies grip your finger. But no-one ever mentions the arsenic hour, do they?

No-one ever warns you in advance, that each evening, your baby will use every ounce of his energy to cry very loudly, and that everything you try will simply make him cry louder.

Oh, and the name is misleading, because it can last much longer than an hour. Some babies are unsettled for hours at a time during the evening.

Listening to your baby cry is a horrible experience. A baby’s cry is a very difficult sound to hear, and is deliberately designed to be disruptive, but when it’s your baby, your tiny newborn baby, it makes it so much harder to listen to.

You may find yourself feeling panicked, stressed and even helpless as you listen to your newborn wailing.

Coping With The Arsenic Hour

As you desperately try to soothe your child to no avail, you may find your mama confidence dwindling, try the following tips to help you cope with the arsenic hour:

Arsenic Hour Tip #1: Be Prepared

The witching hour is going to happen. I’m sorry, but it is. So be prepared. Accept that the witching hour will be a part of your life, at least for a few weeks, and then devise coping tactics. If you spend each day hoping that there will be no witching hour, then it will be even harder to handle when it finally arrives.

Accept it, await it, and remember that it will not last forever. The witching hour will be a part of your life for a very short period, and then you can move on and forget all about its existence.

Arsenic Hour Tip #2: Remember This Isn’t Your Fault

One of the most important things you can do to survive the witching hour, is to keep your cool. The witching hour is normal, lots of babies find it difficult to settle in the evening, and there are thousands of other new mammas going through this exact thing this very moment. Remember, you haven’t done anything wrong, you’re not a terrible mother, and this is normal. Repeat as necessary.

Arsenic Hour Tip #3: Get Some Peace

Your baby has had a whole day of excitement, and may now be feeling overstimulated. Just like you may find it hard to switch off after a stressful day at the office, your baby may struggle to disengage after seeing a cow for the first time (or whatever exciting things your baby may have been doing between feeds and nappy changes).

Turn out the lights, turn off the television, and spend some time sitting in a relaxing environment with just your baby. Your baby may find the peace soothing, and may find it easier to calm down in this environment.

Arsenic Hour Tip #4: Wear Your Baby

Another great way to help your baby hide away from stimulants, is to put him in a sling or wrap. Once held tightly against your chest, listening to your heartbeat and breathing in your scent, you may find that your baby is better able to relax. Take a stroll around the garden, or simply move around the house, to help your baby feel comforted in the sling.

Arsenic Hour Tip #5: Have Backup

Listening to your baby cry for long periods of time is horrible, and can be very draining. Have backup to hand so that you can get take five minutes to recharge your batteries before going back in to try again. Take turns with your partner so that each of you tries to settle the baby whilst the other one escapes from the noise. If you have family or friends closeby, have them on standby for particularly bad nights. Sometimes all it takes is five minutes

Arsenic Hour Tip #6: Get Outside

Your baby’s cries can be deafening indoors, but may feel more manageable in the great outdoors. Put your baby in your sling, wrap or stroller, and head out into the evening. The fresh air and motion may help to calm your baby, and you may find that the fresh air and change of scenery does you the world of good.

Arsenic Hour Tip #7: Give Good Cuddle

It’s a horrible feeling when you cannot do anything to soothe your crying baby, but rest assured that he feels much better simply because you are with him. Cuddling, rocking and singing may all feel useless when he’s still screaming, but you are helping him to feel reassured and safe.

Arsenic Hour Tip #8: Have A Bath

Skin to skin is great for helping you to bond with your baby, and the warm water may help to relax you both. Run a bath (not too warm), and then get in and have a cuddle together. Have the lights low, and play some calming music to create a soothing environment. Be prepared though, babies are not the greatest bath companions because they do not yet understand society’s very important no-pooping-in-the-bath rule.

Arsenic Hour Tip #9: Feed Your Baby

In breastfed babies, the witching hour could be caused by hunger. Newborn babies often cluster feed in the evenings, and this means you may spend hours in an on-again-off-again rut.

It can be a frustrating time, but it’s normal. Your baby may be going through a growth spurt or developmental leap that necessitates extra feeds, so always offer feeds on demand to breastfed babies. If it works, it works – if not, move on to another tip.

See BellyBelly’s article on tips for surviving cluster feeding.

Arsenic Hour Tip #10: Burp Your Baby

Babies sometimes cry because they are experiencing discomfort caused by trapped gas. Make sure you wind your baby after each feed to help him get up any excess air.

Arsenic Hour Tip #11: Use White Noise

Hoovers, blenders and hairdryers are relied upon by mothers across the country as a way to calm a bewitched newborn. Some babies are comforted by the white noise, and experts believe this is because the sound replicates life in the womb. You can even download apps to your phone that play white noise in the hope of soothing fussy babies.

Arsenic Hour Tip #12: This Too Shall Pass

Those four words will get you through almost anything during the first few months of parenting. Yes, the arsenic hour is hard. Yes, you feel helpless. Yes, at times you even feel a little bit on edge, but it will pass. The evening fussiness will one day (very soon) be a thing of the past. Whenever you feel like it is all getting to be too much for you, simply repeat “this too shall pass,” until you feel a little better.

Could It Be Colic?

Colic is characterised as long periods of intense crying in otherwise healthy babies. Around one in five babies suffer from colic, so there is a chance this could be causing your otherwise contented baby to cry all evening. Colicy babies have very intense cries, and may arch their backs, clench their fists and become red faced during bouts of crying.

If you think your baby may be suffering from colic, contact your healthcare provider for advice. For more information, see BellyBelly’s article on colic.

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Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.


  1. When my daughter Lyla started crying at the same time every night I started no worry. I definitely saw her back arching, face turning red…she looked like she was in so much pain. I did some research and read that camomile soothes babies colic and mint leaves as well. I tried out the camomile and it worked. It took about a week for her colic to go away. Each day got better. 🙂 Hope this helps.

    1. I’m interested to hear how you used the chamomile? As a rub or lotion? My 6 month old has been enjoying a good old wail between 1am and 4 am for a couple of months now. I’ve been putting it down to teething but he did suffer with colic as a new born. Maybe this is worth a try?

  2. Where do they come up with this nonsense. Yes, infants do cry and and fussy… at this time there is nothing better than the loving tender care and presence of a parent. But applying the term witching hour, which insinuates the demonic and occult, to a time when a child is seemingly unconsolable is nothing short of sick.

    1. Actually “daddy”, the term witch means wise one… do your research before you make dumb comments like that. And the term witching hour basically means the time when the baby is making a fuss because they’re overstimulated. This term is used because it usually happens around midnight-3am. Usually the time of night when witches do their studying and practice their skills and gifts. Blessed be!

      1. I am familiar with the word “witch”… it’s meaning, it’s history, and their craft. I am aware that the practice of witches is varied whether it be garderian, alexandrian, or celtic. Witches can also mingle with neopaganism and new age. The modern use of the term witching hour is one that refers to the demonic, the paranormal and the occult. ..also often called the devil’s hour.

        I see where you are coming from and see how you have broken down the word witch and hour. It appears that we differ on the origin and etymology of the word and its applicability as a fitting label to this situation. we may also differ on the definition of wisdom.

        The point I wanted to make is that any of the scenarios or suggestions shared in the article all center around “parenting” and the act of being a good, loving, caring and nurturing parent. I see no need to assign labels or terms that are external to the age old joy and goodness of parenting… let’s just call it what it is. I would raise objection if some one called it the cantankerous hour or something similar. We live in a society where people feel it is necessary to provide catchy title to anything to make it either marketable or worthy of discussion. .. i would contend that we do not have to do this.

        It is clear that we differ on this, which shouldn’t be suprising .. people differ on a lot of things. As with any online dialogue that lacks emotion, body language and facial expression it is all to easy for me to come off as harsh, rude or mean… this is not my intention. Unless we both have the same understanding of the anthropology of man and same beliefs we will never agree on 100% of things. I wish you all the best.

          1. I agree Mary, its a term that is broadly used, you are not meant to read so much into it.

        1. Daddy- your focusing on th wrong part of this article. Thanks for not contributing to the discussion. If you have nothing intelligent to say, just don’t say anything at all – end rant

        2. Wow that is enough of his boring speech. This has nothing to with the devil. Wow some people like to hear themselves talk

    2. Calm down dude, it’s just a phrase. There’s a nicely written article here and THAT’S what you choose to focus on? I’m glad I don’t know you.

  3. did anyone else stop to think about how white noise is associated with ghosts and using white noise devices to calm your baby says to me, hey ghost, my baby is listening. ITS GENIUS!!

  4. Daddy is right. I can be misleading and cause all sorts of confusion. But hey it’s Halloween now, let the fun begin. Trick or Treat?

  5. Sigh, it’s a term people. Just a term that has been around for years. It’s an extremely common term used by the health and child care profession. Also having a term helps many new parents research and discuss a very common situation. Talk about over think it. I’m just greatful I had a term to look up to get some helpful tips.

  6. That is what is wronig now a days, you can’t label this, someone got offened by this, or that, ppl don’t read into things so are the only one that cares, gheez , i liked way of life before all this crap…call it something else if you need to for you, but it is not offensive, it is not scary , it is a simple term. gheez…..i need you have too much time on your hands…for real

  7. Both sides of this is wrong as both are getting offended. Using the word witching hour in this day and age of spiritual absence is not good but not surprising. People are always trying to detach themselves from what they associate with. Daddy gave his opinion of dislike for the name of the article, and he doesn’t have to like the name. I don’t like the name because it would be like looking at my child in association with dark forces. I mean why would you want to associate your child with that even in name. Would you name your child Lucifer and just think “oh, that just means morning star’ but neglect to see it’s association with evil? It just seems silly to me, but that is my opinion based on my beliefs. What amazes me is how none here can respect his opinion, but feel as though their opinion is more important. No one is even trying to understand one another. There is no communication without first hearing and trying to understand them first before trying to give your opinion. It would of been better if he tried to understand the intent and simply mentioned that he doesn’t like the title because of its association. Hopefully this comment finds some help, and although it is off topic for the article, this is life not just the life of the article. You are all each others brothers and sisters remember to love one another.

  8. WOW, I thought the article was good and informing. I am surprised at the amount of people who are more interested in the terminology instead of the content.

    1. Agree. Good article and reassuring. Unlike some I am not offended by a term because like stated above I am focusing on the content . This article was helpful and I could even get a chuckle from the terminology when some nights I want to cry with my newborn it is nice to see I’m not alone.

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