Tag Archive for: newborn

Nearly every parent can recall a moment during those early weeks of their baby’s life, when their sweet, innocent little bundle of joy seemed more like a terrifying little monster. This scary time is often referred to as the “Witching Hour”, derived from folklore to mean the time of day when the ghosts, monsters, and demons were said to have appeared. 

Like the term ‘morning sickness’ (which frequently happens far more often than just the morning), the phrase ‘witching hour’ is also a misnomer. Your newborn may spend well more than 60 minutes in this seemingly inconsolable state. Particularly during this time of year, when the sun sets earlier, it is not uncommon for the witching hour to include the hours leading up to and immediately following sunset. 

So what then IS the witching hour?  

The witching hour is a period of excessive fussiness, crying, irritability, and/or sleeplessness, sometimes spanning several hours, often occurring during the late afternoon into evening. It is extremely common for newborns, particularly in weeks 2-4 of their lives, to exhibit this behavior but can (unfortunately) extend for weeks. 

What causes the witching hour in newborns?


It’s the end of another long and grueling day; you’ve been bombarded by noises, lights, sounds, textures, smells, and other external stimuli for hours on end. It’s enough to make adults want to retreat to their happy place! Now, consider a newborn, only weeks into this journey that is life, experiencing all of these same stimuli. This is why the number one cause of the ‘witching hour’ can be attributed simply to overstimulation. As humans, when we are overwhelmed by external stimuli, it is difficult for our mind and body to rest – overstimulation leads to being overtired too.

Gastrointestinal Discomforts

Your baby’s GI system is also brand new, working hard to learn how to suck, swallow, and digest milk, absorb nutrients, and pass gas and stool. It can be expected that this immaturity can contribute to increased gas (and the ensuing fussiness and discomfort), particularly after a full day of feedings. It’s also not unusual for excess gas and discomfort to compound throughout the day. 


A baby’s nutritional needs change throughout the course of the day. It is not uncommon for babies to appear more hungry during the late afternoon and evening hours. This is partially a biological response for breastfed babies in that breastmilk production and supply tends to be at the lowest during this time of day. Babies who are bottle fed may exhibit hunger cues even after finishing their usual portion of milk. 

Tricks & Treats: What can we do to help our baby through the witching hour?

Reduce stimulus 

If you have taken DOB’s Baby 101 workshop, you have likely learned about Dr. Harvey Karp and his 5 S’s; Swaddle, Sway, Side-lying, Suck, and Shhh (or Sound). Combining these five activities can help to reduce external stimuli and, hopefully, encourage baby to close their eyes. A favorite trick for our postpartum doulas is taking baby, swaddled and with a pacifier, into the bathroom, turning off the lights and turning on the exhaust fan! And baby-wearing can be a treat for the whole family. Putting baby in an inward-facing wrap or carrier is a great tool to get through this time, too.

Encourage burps and toots

Encouraging baby to burp and pass gas frequently throughout the day can help alleviate fussiness and bloating in the evenings. Whether breast or bottle feeding, burping baby mid-feeding is always a good idea. Giving baby time to lay and move their limbs can also aid in teaching them how to release gas as well. Ultimately, time and maturity are the only true ‘fix’. 

Feed frequently

While we can’t eliminate baby’s desire to feed frequently in the evenings, sometimes preemptively increasing afternoon feedings can help. This may mean waking more frequently for shorter durations between feedings (2-2.5 hours maximum would be our recommendation). Or increasing the amount or duration at the last feeding session prior to the anticipated witching hour time frame. Cluster feeding, especially in the evenings, is very normal for breastfed babies in anticipation of a growth spurt. Again, this is an instance where time may be the only solution.

Is there a way to eliminate the witching hour?

While it can be difficult to accommodate for every family, one of the benefits of this time of year is the earlier sunsets.  If their witching hour is around 5 pm, ensuring they have a quality late afternoon nap may help. Take advantage of the darkness to push baby’s bedtime back a bit. If baby seems cranky, irritable or inconsolable by 7:30 pm every night, aiming to have them settled and to sleep by 7 pm could help (and mean you might get a few minutes of peace!).

While we can not guarantee that these tips and tricks will work every time with every baby, we can assure you that you are not alone, and ultimately, this time will pass. 

Welcoming a baby into your family is a joy, but a joy that can come with worry. If you’re expecting baby number two, you might be worried about how your older child will adjust to a new sibling. Jealousy is a natural emotion for kids, especially during the ages when they are particularly attached to their parents. They’ll notice you are taking time to care for baby and that people are excited about baby. But, there are still ways that you can help your older child adjust. 

How can I help my older child adjust to a new baby? 

One of the ways that parents can help older children adjust to a new baby is by involving siblings in newborn care, to the extent that they want to be involved. If they are a little older, they might want to help with feeding or bathing. If they’re younger, you can have them get a pacifier and put it in baby’s mouth (gently) or get a diaper. 

Especially for toddlers, it can be helpful for parents to acknowledge the difference between them and the baby. You might find yourself telling the older child to wait while you feed baby or change a diaper. On occasion, you can tell baby that they have to wait while you do something with your older child. You can also remind your older child that they are a big kid and doing something or have something that baby can’t. Emphasizing that they are special can help with feelings of jealousy. 

How do I keep my older child from feeling overwhelmed when baby comes?

 Having a baby can throw everyone’s schedules off, from sleep to meals. One tip to help your older child adjust to a new baby is by keeping their schedule as consistent as possible. If they go to daycare three days a week, keep them at daycare even if you or your partner are home with baby. 

Babies do need a lot of attention, which can create feelings of jealousy in your older child or that there is a certain level of unpredictability. When you feed your baby and do need to devote attention solely to baby, it can help to find something calm and special that the older child can do. While you are trying to have a calm moment for feeding, you can let your older child watch a special show or read a book. 

How can friends and relatives help my older child adjust to a new baby? 

One of the easiest things friends and relatives can do to help your older child or children adjust to baby is acknowledge the sibling first. When they come over to meet baby, have visitors prioritize the sibling. It is so easy for everyone to get excited about the new baby, and your other child can notice this excitement. Have friends and family ask the older sibling if they want to introduce baby or share something special about their new sibling. 

If you have someone who can help you during the postpartum period–whether it is a doula, a family member or friend–you have a great opportunity to prioritize each child on their own. They can take care of baby so that you have quality time with the older sibling. Or, they can take care of the older sibling so you can either rest or take care of baby. 

Installing a car seat safely is one of the most important things to do before baby arrives. In fact, you can’t leave the hospital without a car seat. Choosing and installing a car seat that best fits your vehicle and lifestyle can seem daunting; that’s why our own Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) is here to help. Here are six steps to ensure your baby’s car seat is safely installed. 

Be Prepared

If you are a first-time parent, you’ve probably never installed a car seat before. And even if you have other children, you may not be familiar with your new car seat’s installation procedures. To install your car seat safely, read both the entirety of your car seat manual and the portions of your vehicle owner’s manual that pertains to child restraints. We recommend that you install your seat by your 36th week of pregnancy.

Accessories Can Be Dangerous

It might be tempting to use aftermarket accessories for your car seat or car. Don’t. Use only manufactured approved items that come in the box with your car seat (infant inserts, strap covers, etc.). This includes cozy winter inserts like the J.J. Cole Bundle Me, which are not approved for use in car seats. 

Don’t Leave Baby in the Car Seat

Avoid keeping baby in the car seat more than absolutely necessary. A car seat is designed to keep baby snug and safe, but limits baby’s movement. Even if baby fell asleep in the car seat or you want to keep baby in the car seat at a restaurant or indoors, consider babywearing or a stroller with a bassinet instead. 

Ensure Proper Use of the Car Seat

Straps should come through the slot just below baby’s shoulders, be snug enough that you can not pinch any slack at the collarbone or hips and chest clip should be even with baby’s armpits. Never loosen car seat straps or unbuckle the chest clip or crotch buckle unless you are removing the baby from the seat.

Consult a Child Passenger Safety Technician to Install the Car Seat Safely

Before baby arrives, schedule an appointment with a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). A CPST is qualified and trained to make sure that your car seat is installed correctly and can help you install a baby car seat safely.

As a Doulas of Baltimore client, you may schedule your Car Seat Concierge appointment for $100. What’s included in our car seat concierge service:

  • Initial consultation to discuss your feature and brand preferences, budget, and lifestyle factors
  • Assistance in selecting the best car seat for your child 90-minute personalized car seat installation appointment with up to 2 seat(s) in up to 2 vehicle(s) 
  • 12 months of industry professional phone/email support as your child grows to ensure your confident in your child’s car seat safety


Contact us to learn more

Babies cry. It’s one way they tell you they need food, warmth, or attention. But because we know a baby’s cries mean that it needs something, it can also cause us stress, concern, and frustration. Ultimately, too much crying makes us tired and frustrated. We want to explore some common reasons baby cry, baby soothing tools, and the basics of the 5 S’s. 

Common Reasons Baby Cry 

When babies cry, they are trying to tell us something. The most common cause of crying is because they are hungry. But, they might also cry due to overfeeding, a bloated belly, or gas. The next most common reasons babies cry is because they are tired. They might also be physically uncomfortable. If they have a dirty diaper, the poop can cause pain and burning. And if they have too much or not enough clothing, they may also cry. If you are concerned about your baby’s crying, consult your care provider.

The 5 S’s 

Dr. Harvey Karp writes that babies are, in a sense, really born 3 months early. The newborn nervous system is not fully developed and unequipped to manage the external stimulus of the world outside the womb. It helps to think of doing what you can to recreate a womb-like environment during baby’s “4th trimester.” The 5 S’s are for once baby’s biological needs are met; a means of reducing external stimulus which generally results in baby calming down and falling asleep. 

The 5 S’s are: Swaddle, Side-Stomach Position, Shush, Swing, and Suck. Swaddling helps babies through recreating a womb-like sensation and providing  and can help them fuss less and sleep better. While babies should only sleep on their backs, you can help calm baby by holding them in Side or Stomach position. A baby is surrounded by sound in the womb, and a white noise shushing sound can help calm crying. A womb is also swinging as a pregnant person moves around, and babies are used to this motion. Finally, many babies can find calm in sucking–hence the popularity of pacifiers and thumbs with babies. 

Baby Soothing Tools

There are also gadgets and tools that can help you with soothing techniques. In a recent post, we discussed the Snoo, which Dr. Karp developed as a smart bassinet to help with automatic calming through movement and noise. There are also other bassinets that offer movement as a way to soothe baby, and shushers that create the whooshing sounds baby was used to in the womb. A less high-tech way of employing one of the 5 S’s is through a pacifier (for sucking) or a swaddle cloth (just make sure you are swaddling your baby correctly). 

You can learn more about baby soothing and communication techniques at our Baby 101 class

You’ve welcomed a new baby into your home, you’re feeling up to getting out of the house together, and you’ve picked a location! Now what?

Taking a day trip with a tiny one can seem daunting, whether you’re traveling on vacation or just going to the grocery store. Babies seem to need so much stuff. With some doula-tested strategies and an eye on streamlining your packing process, you CAN manage to enjoy the big world outside without feeling like a pack horse in the process! Try our tips below for stress-free errands and excursions, no matter where you go.

Tip 1: Start with a great bag.

Before you decide what to bring with you when you go out and about, you need to decide where you’re going to put it all. Enter the trusty diaper bag! Diaper bags have come a long way in recent years, incorporating everything from insulated bottle compartments to holes for earbuds to thread through. Choose a bag that’s both sturdy in construction and fitting for your lifestyle. Are you outdoorsy, or will your bag be doubling as a board room briefcase some days? Do you love bold patterns, or traditional neutrals? Take space into consideration too- will you be packing cloth or disposable diapers? Are you traveling with multiple children? This will make a difference! Make sure whichever bag you choose has multiple interior and exterior pockets and compartments. Items stay more organized (and thus easy to access quickly) when they each have a designated place.

Tip 2: Stick to the Essentials

The best way to simplify your days out with baby is to bring only what you’ll actually need. While this can vary widely from family to family, try not to plan for every possibility under the sun. Leave surplus supplies in your car if you’ll be too far from home to pop back in quickly for unexpected emergencies. Include the basics – diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes, then branch out. Think of what baby will need to eat (will you need a bottle?), what the weather will be like (sun hat?), and if at all possible – multi-purpose! Blankets can also be changing pads and sun shades (we love these classic muslin style). Bibs can also be spit rags. Frozen water bottles can keep milk cold while doubling as a drink for you when they thaw. Leave the heaps of toys & gadgets at home.

Tip 3: Suit up

Don’t just think about what you’ll bring along when you venture out – think about what you and baby will be wearing! Dressing for success doesn’t end at the office. When venturing out with little ones, what you and they wear can make or break how enjoyable our day is.  

For parents, dressing in comfortable layers and choosing clothing with pockets can be hugely beneficial! No one ever plans for spit up or diaper leaks, but they happen. Being able to easily cover a small stain temporarily with a cardigan or scarf or making your undershirt your “over-shirt” can save your day from ending abruptly.

Keys and phones are easy to lose when juggling a baby and diaper bag. You set them down, turn around, and suddenly can’t remember where you saw them last. Keep them close in pockets when possible and avoid the hassle the search altogether.

For baby, we all know how cute ruffles and buckles are on small humans!

But when out and about, think minimalism on baby. Headbands get pulled off and lost, buckles can pinch in car seats (no one loves a crying baby on a commute), and outfits without snap-bottoms are both inconvenient and messy should a diaper disaster occur. Dress baby is breathable fabrics with quick access for diaper changes and outfit swaps. You’ll save yourself time and have the bonus of a more comfortable kiddo! We love snap-bottom rompers like this one during summer – they wash and wear great and can easily be paired with a sweater on chilly evenings.

Remember that every outing is a new chance to learn and make memories with your baby, no matter how small the reason! It’s okay to forget things and make mistakes. Like most things, the more you practice, the more confidence you gain. So get out there- the world is waiting!