Mom putting her newborn to sleep.

How to Handle Your Newborn’s Evening Fussiness

There’s nothing quite like those first few weeks as a new parent. You’ll spend hours staring at your newborn in wonder, slowly discovering who they are and how their personality will develop. Although this is a beautiful experience, newborns can also come with quite a few challenges. One of the most common challenges being fussiness. Many infants tend to become irritable and fussy in the evening, and this can be overwhelming for new parents who are already adjusting to the demands of caring for a newborn. Fortunately, there are several strategies that you can use to help calm your newborn and manage their fussiness in the evenings. Here, we’ll discuss some effective techniques for soothing a fussy baby and helping them settle down for the night.


Why is Evening Fussiness Called the Witching Hour?

Evening fussiness in newborns is often referred to as the "witching hour" because it typically occurs around the same time of the day, on a regular basis, for no obvious reason. The term has some interesting origins but is used today as more of a colloquialism. It describes a period of fussiness that occurs in newborns older than three weeks who, like clockwork, get fussy, irritable, or difficult to soothe in the evening. Although it might be frustrating, this is a normal and common occurrence in infants. Usually, it’s related to their natural sleep-wake cycle and the process of adjusting to life outside the womb.


Potential Causes of Evening Fussiness

As a parent, it can be frustrating and exhausting to deal with a fussy baby. While your newborn will likely grow out of this phase, there are some things that may be contributing to the issue. Some potential causes of evening fussiness include the following:


Slow Evening Letdown

One of the most common causes of evening fussiness in babies is a slow evening letdown. Throughout the day, your body’s milk composition and speed of flow changes. In the evening your flow may slow down, making it more difficult for your newborn to get the milk they need. This can be particularly frustrating for babies who are used to getting a fast letdown during the day.


Growth Spurts

Another potential cause of evening fussiness is growth spurts. Babies go through several growth spurts during the first few months of life, and these periods of rapid growth can lead to increased hunger and fussiness. If your baby seems particularly hungry in the evening, it may be a sign that they’re growing. Growth spurts tend to occur around two to three weeks, six weeks, and three months, but every baby’s development is different.


Too Much Stimulation

Newborns are used to the womb, where there’s minimal stimulation. During the first few months of their life, the world can be a lot to take in. Too much stimulation can, therefore, cause evening fussiness in babies. If your baby is exposed to too much noise, light, or activity in the evening, they may become overstimulated and have a challenging time settling down.



Colic is a condition that causes prolonged crying and fussiness in babies. Specifically, it’s characterized by crying for three hours or more, for at least three days a week, for three weeks or more. Colic can occur at any time of the day, including the evening. Although the exact cause of colic is unknown, it’s believed to be related to digestive issues or a baby's immature nervous system. If you think your baby has colic, it’s important to see your pediatrician to rule out any other conditions.



Gas can cause discomfort and pain in babies, making it difficult for them to settle down and sleep. It’s one of the leading causes of evening fussiness but can be avoided once the trigger is found. Sometimes, the foods you eat can contribute to fussiness and gas.



Finally, exhaustion can be the culprit for evening fussiness. If your baby has had a particularly busy day, they may become overtired and have a tough time settling down. Naps are important to help reduce the risk of fussiness caused by exhaustion.

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Signs of Evening Fussiness

Evening fussiness will usually appear around three or four weeks of age and improve by three to four months. Some signs of evening fussiness in newborns may include:

  • Crying or fussiness that occurs at the same time every day, typically in the evening
  • Difficulty settling down or falling asleep, even when tired
  • Clenched fists, arching back, or pulling up the legs to the chest
  • Irritability or increased sensitivity to stimulation
  • Refusal to feed or a decreased appetite
  • Increased crying or fussiness after feeding
  • Increased need for soothing and comfort from a caregiver
  • Difficulty staying asleep or waking up frequently during the night


Methods to Try and Calm a Fussy Newborn

Luckily there are several methods that parents can use to calm a fussy newborn. Pinpointing the cause of the fussiness will help, but you can also try any of the following tips and see what works for you.


Introduce an Earlier Bedtime

One of the most effective methods to calm a fussy newborn is to establish a consistent bedtime routine. Newborns need a lot of sleep, and an earlier bedtime can help them get enough rest. Aim to start the bedtime routine around the same time each evening. Try incorporating activities such as a bath, a gentle massage, and a soothing lullaby to help your baby relax and prepare for sleep.


Take a Walk

Getting outside and taking a walk with your baby can also help calm them down. The fresh air and change of scenery can be calming for both you and your baby. The motion of the stroller or carrier can also be soothing for a fussy baby, regardless of the time of day.


Remove Stimulation

Sometimes, a newborn can become overstimulated, which can lead to fussiness and crying. In these cases, it can be helpful to remove unnecessary stimuli from the environment. Dim the lights, reduce noise levels, and avoid any activities that may be too much for your baby.


Consider Babywearing

Using a baby carrier or sling can be an effective method for calming a fussy newborn. The close physical contact can provide a sense of security and comfort, while the motion of your movements will soothe your baby.


Use White Noise

Many newborns find white noise soothing as it can mimic the sounds your baby heard in the womb, thus creating a familiar and comforting environment. You can use a white noise machine, a smartphone app, or even a simple fan to create a calming background noise for your baby.


Try New Breastfeeding Positions

If you’re breastfeeding, try experimenting with different positions to find something that works for you and your baby. A good latch is important for successful breastfeeding, and finding a comfortable position can help your baby nurse more effectively. This may also help address a slower evening letdown.


Cluster Feed

Cluster feeding is when your baby feeds more frequently over a short period of time, usually in the evening. This can help stimulate milk production and ensure that your baby is getting the nutrients they need. Cluster feeding can also help to soothe a fussy baby who may be hungry during growth spurts.


Give Them a Bath

The warm water of an evening bath can help to relax your baby’s muscles and soothe any discomfort they may be feeling. Be sure to support your baby's head and neck, keep the water level shallow, and never leave them unattended during bath time.


Try to Treat Gas

Since gas can be a common cause of fussiness in newborns, treating it may help. Try massaging your baby's belly in a circular motion or gently bicycling their legs to help move gas through their system. You can also try using a warm compress or a gas relief product recommended by your pediatrician.

If your baby’s evening fussiness continues, see your pediatrician. Although evening fussiness usually dissipates on its own, there may be other things causing discomfort. To help address growth spurts or slow evening letdown, make sure that you have your insurance-covered breast pump and are using it to help aid in your breastfeeding journey. If you have any questions, feel free to contact a representative from Byram Healthcare today.