Title: The Happiest Baby on the Block
Author: Harvey Karp
Publication Year: 2003
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Review: I really didn’t think I was going to like this book. I don’t know why, maybe based on its popularity, but I thought this book was going to be about how to train your baby to be calm by teaching them independence at a young age though the cry-it-out method. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The main point of this book is that your baby really should be in the womb longer than 9 months, but that they need to be born too young in order to fit through the birth canal. Due to this, they need to be treated with extreme sensitivity during their first few months. Whenever they behave colicky or exhibit out of control crying, the best thing to do is to replicate the sensations of the womb to turn on the supposed “calming reflex”. The author uses a method called the 5 S’s to trigger this reflex. The 5 S’s are swaddling, side/stomach, swinging, shushing, and sucking. After I read this book, I felt extremely confident and pretty much challenged my newborn to cry uncontrollably so that I could see if it worked. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did work most of the time. The method didn’t always get the baby to calm completely as the author indicated it should, but I’d say 4 times out of 5, I could stop the screaming (thereby saving my sanity).
It’s important to note that there are many ways to use the 5 S’s. The way I implemented this method with both of my babies that worked the best for me was to start with swaddling (and I felt like the author did a good job describing an effective way of doing this, though I needed to purchase bigger swaddle blankets to make them snug and secure). Then I put the baby up on my shoulder (stomach), patted and bounced a little (swing), shushed in their ear, and then offered a pacifier if they still had trouble calming, though this wasn’t usually necessary. When it didn’t completely work, they would usually switch from screaming to general grumbling with intermittent wails. When this worked well, which was most of the time, both of my babies would fall asleep within minutes. In fact, I normally used this method whenever I wanted them to go to sleep in public or when visiting people rather than nursing them to sleep. While this book doesn’t really cover many aspects of parenting, I think it does a good job of covering one very important aspect of parenting: how to calm a screaming baby. (Personal Rating: 9/10)
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