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What is arsenic hour? Tips For Surviving

Updated on May 14, 2013
What is arsenic hour?
What is arsenic hour?

What is arsenic hour?

Arsenic hour is a term given to the early to late evening by mothers everywhere.

Arsenic is a poison and although there is no obvious connection between the poison and the name of the hour, babies and children certainly appear to be under the influence of something bad during this time.

During this time of day most babies and children are more cranky, easier to upset and less likely to be in a good mood. They can go from a calm placid state to a crying moody mess in a matter of seconds.

It is not known exactly what causes these periods of terror, however they are extremely common and as a result not considered to be anything of major concern to their individual development. Infant problems such as colic and reflux are likely to arise at this time of the day too so keep an eye out.

If you are concerned at all by the behavior you are seeing, a visit to your local doctor or health nurse for a checkup is always advised.

What Is The Correct Name For Arsenic Hour?

Although not widely used, the correct name for arsenic hour is transition time – it signifies the end of day time and the transition between being awake all day and sleeping all night.

The name transition time barely does this time period justice and this may be why it’s been nicknamed arsenic hour, to indicate just how bad it is.

Why Does Arsenic Hour Happen?

There are quite a few reasons that arsenic hour can occur, or a combination of more than one, but here are some of the more common ones:

  • Breastfed babies often cluster feed (feed repeatedly in a short space of time) because this is when a mother’s supply is at her lowest. It also helps with supply and demand – the more a baby feeds, the more milk will be available the next day.
  • Most children are approaching bedtime. After a lot of time spent playing during the day, they’re often worn out and cranky. Because this is the time of day that they are most tired, their moods usually reflect this.
  • It’s a busy time of day. Because this time usually involves a lot of activities in short order – dinner time, bath time, getting dressed for bed and a bedtime ritual – it can be more stressful on both parents and children.

When Does Arsenic Hour End?

There is no set time frame in months to determine when this period will start for any one baby and when it will end.

Some parents recall their babies starting as early as 6 weeks and lasting a few months; others say 5 months however this is probably the longer of the scenarios.

However does it truly ever end or does the child just grow and their style changes? As parents there is always a new development to tend to and a new level of patience to find.

Ways To Ease The Distress Of Arsenic Hour

Whilst there is no one way to stop or resolve this, here are some insightful ways which can help to ease their distress (and yours) and help them settle:

  • Try to have dinner prepared as early as possible. Pre-prepared meals that you have frozen are a great idea.
  • Try to reduce the stimulation in your home. This can include turning off televisions or game machines, dimming the lights and interacting with your children in quiet play such as reading books or telling stories.
  • Prepare a warm bath.
  • Ignore telephones, computers, Facebook and other interruptions.
  • Accepting that this is going to happen and realize that sometimes there is no solution other than to cuddle them, feed them and be patient knowing that it will pass.
  • Remember you are not alone.


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    • BlissfulWriter profile image


      5 years ago

      Interesting. First time I heard the term arsenic hour.


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