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Witching Hour vs Colic


Colic is a word that is often used for a baby who cries for any length of time, but did you know that it’s normal for babies to have a fussy period every day, often called the witching hour?  While it’s distressing for any parent to hear her baby cry, sometimes understanding that the behavior is a normal part of infant development can be helpful.  However, there are times when the behavior may be caused by something else, and even though the cause isn’t always immediately understood, there are measures that can be taken to reduce the symptoms of colic.


What is the “Witching Hour”?

The witching hour is described as normal fussy periods that almost all babies go through.  It happens around the same time every day and most frequently occurs in the late afternoon and evening hours.  It will often begin between weeks 2 and 3, peak around week 6, and then fade around 3 months.  During this time, your baby will likely want to cluster feed, which again, is a normal behavior for babies. A baby who may go 2 hours or more between feedings will suddenly want to eat constantly.  He/she may be fussier than normal and more difficult to soothe.  Often it seems like the baby doesn’t know what he/she wants!  The baby will want to feed for a few minutes, then fall asleep, only to wake 10 minutes later wanting to feed again.  Some babies will fuss at the breast, giving hunger cues, but then pull off and cry.  All of this is normal behavior.


What Causes the Witching Hour?

While our babies can’t tell us why they’re so cranky during these seemingly endless hours, we have some theories on what causes it.  As it happens often towards the evening hours, it could be because mom’s milk supply is lower than it was earlier in the day.  What is so important for moms to realize is that her supply is not TOO low, but lower, which is a normal fluctuation that all women experience.  As the milk flow is slower, the baby may grow frustrated, and as the milk volume is lower, the baby may want to feed more often.  Again, this is not a sign that mom doesn’t have enough milk, but a common occurrence in breastfeeding.  Another cause could be overstimulation.  Your baby isn’t able to self soothe, or shut him/herself down at this age.  So by the end of the day he/she may feel cranky and overstimulated and have a hard time calming down.  It’s also often the busiest time of day in a lot of households, when partners are returning home from work, older siblings from school, and mom is trying to juggle activities like making dinner, or helping another child with homework.


What Can I Do to Help My Baby During the Witching Hour?

While you may not be able to 100% prevent the fussy period, there are lots of things you can do to help calm your baby and make your own life a little easier.  The best thing you can do is to offer your breast often.  Wearing your baby and learning to breastfeed in the carrier can be an absolute lifesaver!  Wearing your baby will also help to keep him/her soothed and your hands free, so you can attend to other children or activities that need to be done.  Another idea is to prep dinner earlier in the day so that you don’t feel the stress of having to do that during your baby’s fussy period.  Take a walk with your baby in the carrier, as the fresh air will benefit you both.  As much as you can, don’t plan events during this time.  And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help!  A baby’s cry is incredibly stressful for mom and sometimes you may need a break.  Ask your partner to step in for a while to soothe baby while you take a bath, go for a drive or walk, or just sit in a quiet room.


What is Colic?

Colic is different than the normal witching hour and is defined as a baby who cries for 3 or more hours a day, 3 or more days a week, for 3 or more weeks at a time.  Colic can begin in the early weeks and often fades by month 3 or 4.  The behavior of a colickly baby is markedly different than that of a baby experiencing normal witching hour.  The crying is often more intense and the baby is unable to be soothed.  The crying may be accompanied by behavior that indicates the baby is physically uncomfortable - he/she will arch his/her back, or seem to want to change positions, or tense his/her legs up near the abdomen.  


What Causes Colic?

Like the witching hour, there is no hard and fast evidence about what causes colickly behavior in a baby.  There are however, some things that you can definitely rule out if you suspect your baby is colicky.  One common cause for colic is too much milk.  Mom with an oversupply of milk may find her baby exhibiting the symptoms described above.  If mom has a very forceful letdown and fast flowing milk, the baby can take in too much air while feeding which can cause lots of gas and periods of great discomfort.  Sometimes an oversupply can cause a baby to have a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.  This also means discomfort for the baby as he/she is getting more of the diluted foremilk and not enough of the fattier hindmilk.  The foremilk doesn’t have enough fat in it to help balance the lactose, which can cause it to be difficult for the baby to digest.  

A tongue-tie or lip tie can also cause this type of behavior, even when mom doesn’t have an oversupply of milk.  A baby with a restricted tongue or upper lip may not be able to create a seal while feeding at the breast, which again, like the oversupply, causes baby to take in too much air while feeding.  

A sensitivity to something in mom’s diet can also be a culprit in causing this colicky behavior.  


What Can I Do to Help my Colicky Baby?

Change up your breastfeeding position.  If you feel like you may have a forceful letdown, try using the laid-back position.  This can help slow down your flow, making it more manageable for your baby.

If you suspect that something in your diet may be causing your baby discomfort, try keeping a food journal for 48 hours.  Record everything you eat, the time you ate it, along with the times your baby is exhibiting the colicky behavior.  If you start to notice a trend of discomfort following a certain type of food, you can eliminate that food from your diet for a few weeks to see if the behavior improves.  The foods most likely to cause sensitivities are dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, and nuts.  

Most importantly, seek the help of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) as she can help you identify oversupply, forceful letdown, tongue/lip tie, as well as a food intolerance/sensitivity.  Lastly, contact your pediatrician to rule out any serious conditions.  

And most of all, remind yourself that this will pass!


What tips do YOU have for surviving you baby's witching hour?



You Know You Are a Breastfeeding Mother When...

Cyndi: You have to plan your work meetings around your pumping schedule.

Sherry: You walk around the house for a few minutes before realizing you never put your boob away.

April: All your shirts open in the front.

Amy: You go to run a 10k and pack your pump as part of your post-race routine.

Kelly: Every shirt you own had a stain from leaking over one or both breasts.

Amy: You workout and apologize to your friends for smelling like a mixture of sweat and milk due to random let downs.

Dana: You are happy to have limo tint on the back windows of your car because you spend so much time pumping in the back seat.

KC: Your husband wakes up to a ‘peep show’ and you’re passed out.

Christine: Your knit shirts are all stretched out because of your toddler reaching down and grabbing for self service.

Bethany: You feel your boobs all day to see which one needs to be nursed from next.

Angelique: You fear the mailman has had a free peep show, but you don’t even care.

Melissa: You question how much milk spillage is acceptable on a shirt before you change it.... and the answer is A LOT!

Ruthii: When sitting next to you becomes a splash zone.

Jennifer: You catch your toddler breastfeeding her dolly.

Jennifer: You walk out the front door and reflexively grab your chest to make sure your boobs aren’t hanging out!

Julie: When you cry over spilling an ounce of milk on the counter.

Suzanne: You use your milk as a cure everything from sunburns to eye and ear infections. Breast milk is the equivalent to Windex from the film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

Ashley: You’re excited for a date night because it means you don’t have to choose your clothes based on which are the easiest to take off in public.

Jacqueline: Your boobs are often lopsided.

Alethra: When hunger, tiredness, getting hurt, or any other dilemma is solved and smoothed over with whipping out the boob.  Problem solved!

Brittany: You’re in public and when you hear a baby start to cry, your first thought is, “Oh, man!  I hope I put on my breast pads today!”

Angela: When you bring your breast pump on your Vegas trip and plan everything around your pumping schedule.  Times have changed!


What would you add to this list?  Please share in the comments! 



Advocating When Your Baby has a Tongue or Lip Tie

To help parents understand a bit more about how tongue and lip ties can affect breastfeeding, over the next few weeks we will be featuring stories from moms whose babies experienced these challenges.  We would like to extend a HUGE thank you to the brave mamas who submitted their stories for our blog!  We know you went through a ton of challenges and we are so appreciative that you were willing to share your stories!  If you have a story you would like to share on our blog, please send it to

For more information about tongue and lip ties and how they can affect breastfeeding, please see our article:Does Your Baby Have a Tongue or Lip Tie?


Written by Kimberly Berry

I am often referred to as a "boob nerd" by many friends. Articles, research, blogs....anything breastfeeding related always interested me. I absorb the information like a sponge. Sharing and helping moms with nursing just came naturally. I never heard of tongue or lip tie though until I was pregnant with my second. A few things I read made me wonder if some of the struggles I had with my daughter were due to a possible tongue/lip tie in her. She had self weaned recently though, so I never gave it much more thought. That reading on tongue ties proved to be invaluable to me in just a few short months however.

My handsome baby boy came flying into this world at 5:01pm on a Friday afternoon. The moment he was handed to me after his birth, I saw it glaring right back at me as he cried and took his first breaths. A tongue tie. His frenulum stretched all the way to the tip of his tongue. I kissed and nuzzled him close to calm him, warm him. Once calm, I looked at my husband and said, "He has tongue tie." My husband, confused said, "..ok?" not knowing what I knew. Not knowing how that can affect breastfeeding. Not knowing the possibility for pain and injury for me while nursing our second child. The nurse nearby heard me and chimed in to say "Oh, it's just a small one, no worries!" I told her I wanted to see a lactation consultant. She nodded her head and continued on with her work. 

I then began the process of trying to get him to latch for his first feed, although I knew that it could quite possibly be as bad, or even worse than the pain I just endured to bring him into this world. He was disinterested. So we snuggled and I tried every five minutes or so. Finally, 45 minutes after his birth, he latched. I unlatched and relatched him over two dozen times before it felt even remotely close to ok. I asked again to see the lactation consultant on staff. I did breast compressions and massage to help encourage colostrum into his little mouth that he was trying so hard to get to work correctly. Becoming annoyed, I would then ask every person that came into my room to bring me a IBCLC. I was met with "Yes, sure thing!", "You are on the waiting list", "Your nipples are just too big for his mouth"... I could go on and on with the excuses I heard the rest of that day and overnight. We struggled through each feeding. He was frustrated, and so was I. When he cried, his tongue looked like a heart. My heart broke that this was going on and help was seemingly out of reach. 

Finally, at 9am the next day, a IBCLC stopped in to "see how breastfeeding was going." I told her that I had been asking to see a lactation consultant since his birth the evening before. Shocked, she said she was not made aware we needed her. We discussed for several minutes how crucial nursing support is to new mothers and who she was going to speak with about the situation. I made my notes on who to contact as well  as who to advise of the lack of proper treatment. Then we got down to the business at hand. She agreed immediately that my son had a tongue tie, and not "just a small one" as the nurse had called it. She called right then for the ENT to work us into the schedule immediately to have it clipped. Unfortunately, we were knocked back on the list several times due to other emergency surgeries that day. While I am a patient person, I was becoming angered that the fact that my child was having trouble eating was not a concern to most of the staff. 

The next day, the day of our discharge, arrived and we were still muddling through feeds. I was starting to become very sore. Again, we were told time after time that we were next in line for his procedure, only to be knocked back again by an emergency surgery. How many emergency surgeries were there?! How many other new mothers were waiting for the same help I was??? The IBCLC I had spoken with the day before was not working. The other IBCLC couldn't get to us until that afternoon. Our nurse was sympathetic, but said this seemed to be typical of the weekend. Finally, I said enough is enough and took matters into my own hands. I looked up the ENT my daughter sees. Being a Sunday, the after hours line was activated. I left a message to see if anyone could call me back to let me know if they preformed frenulectomies on newborns. Thankfully, a sweet nurse called me back after about 5 minutes. She said that they did do the procedures, but I would have to call back in the morning for a appointment. 

We left the hospital and never looked back. I bared through the pain of the feedings until that appointment with the ENT the next afternoon. The frenulectomy was not easy to watch, but it helped so much. When he nursed when it was over, I could tell a difference, not a huge one immediately, but enough that I didn't wince up and have tears in my eyes the whole time. We only had to relatch six times instead of more than a dozen times. Each day thereafter, nursing was getting better and better. We practiced the exercises and I continued trying to heal my nipples. After several days, he started gaining weight and I was settling into being a mommy of two. Nursing became a joy again. Something I once again looked forward to. It was now my time to look in awe at my newborn and be proud of my body’s amazing ability to grow this perfect being and now continue to nourish it. 

Without a doubt, if I didn't know anything about breastfeeding or tongue ties, I would have thrown the towel in and given up. It was clear for me to see why so many new mothers do. In a mom’s group I help with, I constantly tell new mothers to check for tongue/lip ties. Even if someone says there isn't one, or if its minor and won't affect breastfeeding, know how to look yourself and find someone who will help you. You have to be your own advocate. Your babies advocate. We look to these medical professionals to guide and help us. Unfortunately, sometimes that's not always the case. It's crucial for them to receive the proper training, listen to their patients, and have resources available to help mothers and babies. It's crucial for mothers to be determined, educated, and supported. All of these things go hand in hand for successful breastfeeding. My son went on to nurse until he self weaned at 13 months.


I’ve Had My Baby - Now What? Breastfeeding During Weeks 3-6

Welcome back to our new series, I’ve Had My Baby - Now What?  This is a guide with basic information to help you navigate the first days, weeks, and months of breastfeeding your new baby.  

Today we’d like to talk about weeks 3 through 6 of your baby’s life, and what breastfeeding looks like.  What can you expect for normal behavior from your new baby, and when do you know there’s a problem that you should seek professional help for?


What does normal breastfeeding look like in weeks 3-6?  How often should my baby be eating, and how long should feedings take?

It’s extremely common for babies at this age to still want to feed frequently, every 2-3 hours.  Some *may* become more efficient and take in more at feedings and start to space them out a bit more, but don’t fear if your baby hasn’t done this yet!  Feedings may start to speed up as mom’s milk volume is higher and baby has had good practice breastfeeding, but again, don’t worry if your baby still feeds at the breast for as long as he/she did in the early weeks.  It can take some time for mom and baby to really get their groove and you may still be working out some kinks during weeks 3 through 6.


How much weight should my baby be gaining at this age?  How will I know if he/she is getting enough when I’m not seeing my pediatrician as frequently for weight checks?

Up to 4 months of age, we expect babies to gain .5-1 oz/day, or 4-7 ounces a week.  There are many ways other than weight to be sure that your baby is getting enough milk.  If your baby is having plenty of wet and soiled diapers each day, and generally seems content after feedings for two hours or more (outside of growth spurts and cluster feeding periods), you can feel good that he/she is probably getting enough.  If you want a little more concrete evidence, a great way to track your baby’s weight is by attending a free weekly breastfeeding support group.  There will often be a scale there to weigh your baby, you can do test weights to see how much baby is taking during that feeding, get help from a lactation consultant or educator, and, the BEST part, meet and connect with other moms.


Can I give my baby a bottle now?  If so, who should give it and how often should they do so?

 Once breastfeeding has been established, weeks 3-5 are the perfect time to introduce a bottle to your baby if you’d like them to take one.  It’s normally best that someone other than mom gives the baby the bottle, as babies often associate mom with breastfeeding and may refuse a bottle from her.  Plus, often times, partners and grandparents have been waiting for their moment to participate in the feeding of the baby.  We recommend that mom start pumping after week 3, once a day or so, to start to save up milk for that first bottle.  2-3oz is an appropriate amount to start with.  Be sure that the bottle is fed to the baby in a breastfeeding friendly manner.  If mom is going back to work, we recommend that baby receives a bottle on a somewhat regular basis, a few times a week, so that he/she remains familiar with it.  Plus, mom should pump every time baby receives a bottle to maintain her milk supply.


My baby is inconsolable for a few hours in the evenings.  Why is this happening and what can I do?

Many babies have a “witching hour”, or as I like to call it, “an unhappy hour”.  The term is a bit misleading as the behavior normally lasts for more than an hour!  It occurs most frequently in the late afternoon/evening hours.  Babies are often fussier than normal during this time, and want to eat often.  And while they want to feed often, they may pull off more frequently as well.  There are a number of theories as to what causes this fussiness at this time.  They may be feeding often to “tank up” on calories before taking a long sleep (sounds wonderful!).  They may be overstimulated from their day and having a hard time winding themselves down.  This is often a busy time for the entire household, as partners are home from work and older siblings may be home from school.  Best thing that you can do during this time is to offer the breast often.  Learning to nurse in a baby carrier can be a lifesaver as it will allow you to be hands-free while the baby is snuggled, fed, and comforted.


How will I know if my baby is colicky?  Is this the same as the ‘witching hour?’

Many parents confuse normal fussy behavior for colic.  Colic is defined as 3 hours or more of crying, 3 or more times a week, for 3 or more weeks in a row.  It normally resolves itself around month 4.  If your baby’s crying looks like this, he/she may have colic.  There are no definitive cause for colic, but it could be related to gut issues due to food sensitivities.  The “witching hour” is the period of time of day when your baby may seem unusually fussy, normally lasting for a couple of hours. This behavior peaks around 6 weeks and then often starts to fade.


If I am still having a challenging time building up my milk supply at this time, have I missed the window for increasing my milk supply?

Not at all!  Depending on the reason for mom’s low supply, there are plenty of things that can help boost  supply at this stage.  The most important thing is to learn why mom is struggling with her milk supply.  As always, lots of good breast stimulation is best - either from a baby or a hospital grade pump. There are also herbs and medications that are available that can help boost supply as well.


There may be times when things aren’t going the way they should.  If you find this, please contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to help you.  Some signs that you might need some additional help:

  • Sore, cracked, bruised, or bleeding nipples.

  • Baby is gaining less than 4oz per week.

  • You suspect your baby may be tongue-tied.

  • Painful, recurrent engorgement.

  • Oversupply.

  • Baby is having problems stooling.

  • Overly gassy, fussy, or colicky baby.

  • Breast infection - mastitis, abscess, or thrush.


For  more information about what normal breastfeeding looks like in the first few weeks, check out our article,What Every Mom Should Know About Breastfeeding During the Early Weeks, which highlights our brand new brochure!  Also, check out Ashley as she discusses more tips and tricks for breastfeeding during weeks 3-6 on the Boob Group episode, New Mom Breastfeeding Manual: Weeks 3-6.


Join us next time when we discuss months 2-6!



Mother Kicked Out of LA Fitness for Breastfeeding in the Locker Room

It happened again in San Diego!  How is this possible?  Another nursing in public incident that clearly violated California state law!  An incident where a mother felt violated and shamed for nursing her baby in a public place.  Another reason that reinforces the need for our San Diego Nursing in Public Task Force.


Here is Monique Golueke’s story, in her own words.  


"It had been over a year since I had been to the gym and after what happened today, it's not likely I'll be returning, at least not to LA Fitness. I was so excited to attend a step class alongside one of my best gals.

On April 22, 2014, I reinstated my membership, paid the fees, and signed my boys up for the unlimited Kids Klub pass. Forty-five minutes into our class, I was notified that the boys had been crying and they weren't able to settle down. I swooped them up and took them directly to the ladies’ restroom/locker room where I washed both of their little hands. My 9-month old still seemed upset so I decided to nurse him while my toddler sat next to me and played with my phone. About five minutes later, I was approached by an LA Fitness employee.  She told me that we needed to leave and that children were not allowed in the locker room.

I explained that I was nursing my son and she responded by saying that since I was new I probably didn't know the rules. She told me that an "elderly" woman had complained. Upon signing back up for the gym, there was no mention of the rules regarding the children.

When approached, I felt completely mortified, embarrassed and ashamed. I asked the employee where I should be nursing and she told me that there was a bathroom located in the kids club. Escorted out I felt embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated.  Keep in mind that there are no signs posted stating that children are not allowed in the ladies’ restroom/locker room. My intention was to nurture and care for my children in a safe and friendly environment.

Escorted me out-what now?

They were more than happy to accept my money, then send me on my way.

I decided to call corporate and notify them of what happened and also have my account deactivated, I also asked them to refund my money. They were apologetic and handled the situation by having the manager from the Oceanside location contact me.

The manager called me and asked what had upset me: the fact that I was breastfeeding or the fact that the kids were in the locker room. I barely understood what he was asking. It was clear he didn't understand the legality of the situation. He told me that if I ever wanted to return to LA Fitness, I was welcome to nurse my baby in the restroom located in the Kids Klub.

I'm not positive but I think the only place to sit in the restroom that he was referring to is on the toilet. 

At that point, I decided to again contact Corporate and inform them of the absurd conversation I had with the manager.  They were apologetic and explained that if they needed to contact me they would. The conversation was strange and at this time I was heated and enraged. The woman didn't really say much."




After Monique shared her story in a private Facebook group, women from all over San Diego county banded together to organize a peaceful nurse-in in front of the Oceanside LA Fitness, showing their support for Monique as well as upholding a mother’s right to nurse in public.

Click here for the video from ABC 10 News showing the Nurse-In at LA Fitness.

Jill Greuling, Vice President of Operations for LA Fitness, issued this statement to 10News: 

"We support the right of women to breastfeed in our facilities. When Mrs. Golueke voiced her intention to do so to one of our staff, she was offered space in the Kids Klub or, as an option, the separate restroom within the Kids Klub and a chair if she wanted more privacy. The staff member initially spoke to Mrs. Golueke to let her know that children are not allowed in the locker room area. This conversation occurred because another member observed her in the locker room with small children and reported it to us.”

Unfortunately, this statement is untrue.  Monique was ONLY offered to breastfeed in the Kids Klub restroom and that is a significant problem.  The CA law states that a women is allowed to breastfeed her child, anywhere she and her child  are authorized to be.  If children are in fact not allowed in the locker room at LA Fitness, then the law doesn’t protect Monique in that area of the gym.  The issue is with the statement from the staff member who recommended that Monique breastfeed her baby in the Kids Klub bathroom.  This is not an appropriate place to breastfeed a child.  It is unsanitary and demeaning.  It is important for all LA Fitness staff to know that this is not an appropriate recommendation and that, instead, mothers should be alternatively told that they may breastfeed in the lobby or in a comfortable spot in the Kids Klub.

At this time, the San Diego Nursing in Public Task Force is sending a letter to the LA Fitness Corporate office kindly requesting that they create a breastfeeding-supportive policy statement for their members, including a list of appropriate areas where mothers may breastfeed their children in their facilities (not including a bathroom.)  We will also be offering language that they can share with their staff members on how to kindly respond to a mother who is breastfeeding her child in a place where her child is not authorized to be.

We will keep you posted!

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