How to survive the witching hour with twins.
Newborns are so sweet and cuddly. It is a joy to just hold them and savor all the snuggles. Except when they have been fussing for an hour. Every night. For awhile. Times two. The witching hour is happening. This is a tough time for any parent, and having to handle it with two babies is no joke. There is nothing you have done wrong, and chances are good that there is nothing wrong with your babies. This just happens. But there are some ways to get through this tough period. Here is how to survive the witching hour with twins.
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The Witching Hour With Newborn Twins
What Is the Witching Hour?
So what exactly is this witching hour? I mean, newborns cry all the time so how is this different? The witching hour is a period of time that usually hits between 5 pm and midnight where your babies just cry. They are fussy, and you don’t really know why.
It can last more than an hour, so be prepared. It generally starts when your babies are around 2-3 weeks old, peaks around 6 weeks, and fades out around 3 months. Yes, it can feel like it lasts forever. But it will end.
Why Does the Witching Hour Happen?
No one really knows why the witching hour happens. It could be that your babies are overstimulated at the end of the day. It could be because this end of the day time is usually pretty busy and your babies can feel that stress.
If you are meeting all the needs of your baby, chances are there is nothing exactly wrong, it is just the witching hour in action. Ben went through this when he was a newborn. He would cry in the evening and nothing was actually wrong. He grew out of it in time, as will your baby.
What To Check First During the Witching Hour
There are a few things to check out when the witching hour strikes.
Are Your Twins Hungry?
Yes, this should be a no-brainer. Check if they are hungry. But it never hurts to consider it again. Do you think your babies are hungry? (Questions about feeding twins? Try this—> The Ultimate Resource Guide for Breastfeeding Twins)
Are Your Twins Tired?
How have nap times gone during the day? Is a schedule change in order? Are your babies overtired? These are things to consider. (Help your twins sleep with these tips—> Twin Sleep: Your Guide to Getting Sleep)
Are Your Twins in Pain?
It is always a good idea to check over your babies if they are crying and you can’t find a reason. Is a hair twisted around a toe? Are their clothes uncomfortable in any way? Does a diaper need changing?
How To Survive the Witching Hour with Twins
Chances are you have checked all of the above and found them to be fine. If fixing one of them stopped the crying it wouldn’t really be a witching hour. So what can you do to get through this challenging time? It is not easy to handle two babies crying at once.
When Ben went through the witching hour we got through it by taking turns just walking with him. It worked for him and for us. With two babies (and a toddler)? We needed different strategies.
Force a Cluster Feed
Cluster feeding is when you feed your twins close together. So in the evening instead of being on a 3-hour schedule, you might feed your babies every hour.
When cluster feeding babies tend to eat for a bit, take a break, then eat some more. This can be tough to schedule out because the spacing might not be consistent.
I would try to plan ahead and offer up the breast at closer and closer intervals as the evening went on. My girls didn’t have to eat, but they had the opportunity.
Utilize Skin to Skin
Babies need physical contact to feel loved and secure, and twins are no exception. As I was nursing my twins, offering up more nursing sessions increased this skin to skin time. Regardless if you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, try to get some skin to skin time in.
I found the nursing pillow (I loved the My Brest Friend Twin pillow) to be perfect for this. Even if I wasn’t nursing I could easily snuggle and hold both girls at the same time. The pillow also let me be a little hands-free at times too. This is so helpful for being able to eat something, help other children, and just be more comfortable while holding two babies.
Trade Off with Your Partner
This tough period should not just rest on your shoulders. Take turns with your partner! As I said when Ben had his witching hour Pat and I would take turns walking with him. This way we could both sit and eat dinner and we each got to snuggle with Ben.
You can have your partner use your nursing pillow to hold your twins at the same time. Have them do skin to skin too! This is a great time to help your partner bond with your twins.
Or go man to man and each of you focus on one twin. This is helpful if your twins have different things that calm them. One might prefer to be walked while the other just held. They are individuals, so they might need different soothing techniques.
Utilize a Bouncer or Swing
The witching hour is the perfect time to take advantage of bouncers or swings. These things are designed to soothe babies, and in the busy evening time, there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of this.
Ben was a total bouncer baby. He hated the swing and we would use the bouncer during this witching hour. With Ali and Sammy we never even tried swings. They just took up too much space in our tiny house. But bouncers were perfect.
Bouncers let you customize the, well, the bounce to what each twin likes. I also enjoyed that you could bounce both babies at once with your feet. I don’t mean to sound cold, but it is very freeing to be able to soothe your babies without actually holding them.
Bouncers allowed Pat or me to calm Ali and Sammy at the same time, but still be hands-free to eat dinner. (This is important since the witching hour is in the evening.) It also gave me a break when I was touched out at the end of the day.
We would take turns sitting with Ben while he had dinner and bouncing the girls. Having Sammy and Ali in bouncers also gave us valuable face time. It is hard to actually look at your babies when they are snuggled up against you. While in the bouncers we could get eye contact and actually see their sweet faces. (Find out what bouncers we used, along with all the other twin gear we got—> Twin Gear: Essentials on a Budget)
Take a Walk with Your Twins
If the weather is decent, grab the stroller and take a walk. Fresh air works wonders to soothe babies, and twins are no exception. This can be a great method to try if you have other kids as well. Everyone can enjoy a nice evening stroll, get some energy out, and calm the twins.
This busy time can actually be a great time to have people over to see your twins. Ali and Sammy adored having people talk to them, so the evening witching hour was actually a perfect time to have a visitor or two. This might not be true for everyone, but it was helpful for us.
Guests got to shower Sammy and Ali with attention, which meant I could take a step back. And Ali and Sammy were soothed by the extra attention. Maybe it is a twin thing, but one on one attention helped so much.
Take a Break Yourself
Whatever method you choose, don’t be afraid to take a break yourself. Dealing with one crying baby can be tough enough, and you have two. Utilize your resources and if you need a moment away, take it!
The witching hour is hard. If you have determined that there is nothing physically wrong and that this is just a phase your babies are going through, take a break if you need too. Seriously, your babies will survive crying for a minute if you need that to keep your sanity.
If you don’t have anyone to hand over care to find other ways to mentally step aside. I would hold my twins against me with my nursing pillow and watch tv sometimes. I was physically there taking care of their needs, but this gave me a mental break that helped so much. Use the bouncer while listening to a podcast, nurse and read a book. It is okay to mentally escape for a few minutes. Your health as a parent matters too. (Learn ways to handle dealing with crying twins all alone —> How To Deal When Both Twins are Crying and You are Alone)
The Witching Hour with Twins Will End
The biggest thing to remember is that this phase will end. You aren’t doing anything wrong, and your babies are normal. This is a phase a lot of babies go through and twins are no exception. You will get through this. And you are doing a great job with your twins. Twin moms are made tough. You got this.
Here is more to help you out!