In this title, America’s #1 pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp, discovers an incredible treasure sought by parents for centuries—an automated “off-switch” for their baby’s crying—in perhaps the most important parenting book of the decade.
Dr. Karp is praised by pediatricians around the world, and thousands of parents who have turned to him for the secrets of how to make their babies happy.
Through his research and experience, he has developed four basic principles that are crucial for understanding babies as well as improving their sleep and soothing their senses: The Missing Fourth Trimester, The Calming Reflex, The 5 “S’s”and The Cuddle Cure.
The hardest part of being a new parent
The hardest part in the early weeks is getting enough sleep. That’s why this book is one of the most popular reads for new parents. Baby-calming is a must-learn skill and it’s something that you can practice and master as a parent.
Why babies cry
- Babies cry because they’re brought into the world before they’re ready
- Newborn babies need a lot of help, they can’t sit up, turn, or even burp on their own.
- Newborn babies are fragile and constantly overwhelmed, they need soothing with constant nourishment, which is what the womb provides for them
- Letting your baby cry is dangerous, they need you when they cry and will learn to feel safe around you
Calming your baby
The good news is colicky babies will outgrow their colicky symptoms during what’s called the fourth trimester.
Over time, you can let your instincts guide you and show your child love when they need it. And soon, your baby will learn to feel safe when you’re around.
There are a few helpful tricks that you can learn to help as well.
Ways to calm – recreate the womb
Babies have calming reflexes that protect them during the pregnancy, but they also still help after they enter the world.
That’s what the Five “S”s are here for, to trigger the calming reflex. When the baby experiences one or more of these Five “S”s, it’ll help them feel the same comfort that they had while they were in the womb.
- Side position
The Five “S”s
1️⃣ Swad·dle To wrap (someone, especially a baby) in garments or cloth.
Swaddling your baby is a simple way to trigger the calming reflex. By wrapping your child tightly, you replicate the continuous pressure of the womb.
- Relaxed by this pressure, your baby will be more inclined to respond to further triggers.
Can swaddling be bad?
- Research shows that swaddling decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when done correctly.
- Babies don’t like squirming, they just can’t help it, so swaddling prevents this movement helps your baby feel safe again.
When to swaddle?
- Parents should limit swaddling to two specific times—sleeping and crying episodes.
- Dr. Karp explains that you should gradually decrease frequency over time as the baby matures.
- This ensures that the baby can stretch and move as much as they like.
How to swaddle?
- You can use any blanket to swaddle a baby
- There were a lot of swaddles available that use zippers or velcro that make it easier to stay wrapped
- Practice makes perfect
2️⃣ The second “S” is for side position. When you go to put your baby down, if you lay them on their back, their nervous system may interpret this position as falling, and so the baby gets startled.
- When you roll the baby on its side, it triggers a calming reflex, especially when swaddled.
- The side position is NOT for sleeping, only for calming your baby down before sleep
- Newborn babies should sleep on their backs without pillows, other blankets, or toys in their bassinet
- Ensuring that your baby doesn’t sleep on its side significantly reduces the risk of SIDS
- Once your baby is calm and ready for sleep, roll it onto its back
3️⃣ Shushing helps. Babies are not used to silence. When babies are in the womb, the sound of blood rushing around the womb is actually louder than a vacuum cleaner.
- Noise can actually calm babies down, especially noises that mimic the whooshing sound from the womb, such as a white noise machine or shushing
- A soft swishing or rustling sound made by something moving.
- Shushing is a white noise you make with your mouth
- Start with a soft “shhhh” sound, and then slowly raise your volume to meet the level of the crying. Then as the baby calms down, you can lower your volume again.
4️⃣ Swinging is the fourth way to break the crying cycle.
- Babies don’t like stillness. In the womb, they’re always moving around when the mother went about her normal life, so swinging is a way to recreate this constant movement.
- Shaking is very dangerous, but swinging is different
- Swinging, like rocking, is a small movement done while supporting the baby’s head and neck
- When you swing, you rock the baby around your arms rapidly, but only within a few inches
- You progress to gentle rocking, which can be done when you’re sitting or standing
❗ Shaking can lead to brain damage and even death, so you never, ever want to shake your baby!
5️⃣. Sucking is a way to make sure that the calming reflex lasts and your baby doesn’t start crying again.
- A baby needs to drink about three ounces of milk per pound of body weight, so breastfeeding or using formula is vital
- Once your baby has that down, using pacifiers can calm babies down between feedings
How long should pacifiers be used?
- Dr. Karp and most pediatricians recommend using them only during the first six months
- If they’re still used by month nine, the child will form an emotional attachment to the pacifier and would struggle to go without it
Where your baby should sleep
- First 9 months
- During the first nine months, it’s okay to keep your baby in your bedroom for easy nighttime care
- Co-sleeping or bedsharing
- Dr. Karp doesn’t recommend co-sleeping or bedsharing, since it can increase the risk of SIDs
- You may roll onto your baby or they can roll into riskier positions
- Your sheets may restrict their breathing
- The snoo
- Dr. Karp’s sleep bassinet that uses the five “S”s to help calm your baby and stop their crying
- it has a built-in swaddle, simulates a light rocking motion, and when your baby gets fussy, it plays white noise through a speaker and increases and decreases the volume automatically
- Babies cry in their first few months because they aren’t ready to be born yet.
- You can trigger a baby’s calming reflex by simulating the environment they were used to in the womb.
- Dr. Karp’s Five “S”s, are swaddling, side position, shushing, swinging, and sucking. If you practice this, you’ll be a pro at soothing your baby.