My 4-month-old baby is so cranky in the evening! She starts crying after 5 pm, and the only thing that makes her stop is a walk in her stroller. What to do!?
The mom in this Q&A describes the so-called witching hour perfectly; a healthy, happy baby who has a really fussy period every evening. Let’s go through why this is and what to do about it.
My 4-month-old daughter always starts crying for some reason after 5 pm, and the only thing that makes her stop is a walk in her stroller. Sometimes she will fall asleep part way through our walk. She sleeps 11 hours every night without waking and takes a few naps during the day.
The problem is we live in Colorado, and the season is about to change. I can’t figure out how to make her stop crying for the 2 hours before she goes to bed. Once it starts snowing here, I am afraid she is just going to cry non-stop for that 2 hour period in the evening, and it’s so hard to hear. What can I do?
Easy Baby Life:
Tips For The Evening Cranky Times
The witching hour
This is SOOO common! The evening cranky times! Firstly remind yourself everything is a stage, and they do grow out of it!
There is nothing like a crying baby to raise our stress levels. You are very lucky she is sleeping so long at night; it is so much easier when you have had a good night’s sleep!
To give you an idea of how common this is; these cranky evening times even have a name – “the witching hour”! Just as with your baby, this fussy time typically occurs at some point between 5:00 pm and 11: p.m. So again, this is common and nothing to worry about.
Fussy Baby In The Evening Due to Us as Parents
Intensive Time in the Home
The main reason babies get cranky at this time of night is you! It is usually at this time that we are getting tired, that our attention is shifting to getting a meal ready, maybe looking after other children, doing a quick tidy up before Daddy gets home, bringing the washing in… So baby picks up on all this and can’t cope. The younger the baby, the more tuned in and sensitive they are to everything that is going on in you, so when your attention shifts, they become fearful, and the more frustrated you get with them crying, the more anxious and upset they get. A vicious circle!
Add to that, that the baby is also getting tired from a day full of impressions, daylight, sounds, and activities!
How to Cope With and Mitigate the Cranky Evenings
I would highly recommend you try a baby sling. Many babies settle much quicker in a sling; they can hear your heartbeat, smell you, and you can be talking and move about doing things around the house. Don’t just use it at night, though, or she may well associate it with the busy time, try during the day when you are both more relaxed, so it is a happy, comfortable place to be.
Also, try organizing your day so there is not such a busy time in the evening. Prepare dinner in the morning, leave the tidy up until she is in bed, and try to focus on keeping yourself really chilled out at that time. Maybe you have some soothing music you love; it will help you to relax, and she too. Take a bath together, and change the routine so it is a fun, peaceful time rather than an endurance. Water is often very soothing, so a long play in a warm bath might do the trick. You can find more play tips as well as developmental milestones for your baby here.
The evening walk is a great way to settle a baby (and get some exercise!), but as you say, it will become harder as it gets colder. Unless the weather is really bad, you can still rug up well and head off for a walk, and maybe by the time you can’t, she will have grown out of the evening crying! You can also do “stroller walks” at home by simply taking the stroller inside your house and pushing it back and forth, preferably in a calm environment to help her relax.
Wishing you JOY,
More Crying 4-Month-Old Babies
Add your comments below or return to all Crying Baby Posts.
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing is based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians that you find here. They write or review all health-related articles.