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The Happiest Baby on the Block

Before my son was born, I watched Dr. Harvey Karp’s dvd called The Happiest Baby on the Block. I had read the Happiest Toddler on the Block and I thought that Dr. Karp had a lot of interesting ideas and philosophies. I had heard of the 5 S’s (techniques for having a happy baby) and wanted to learn more about them in hopes to gain some good tricks to put under my belt for my new baby.

We have tried all five S’s in one form or another. Here is how they have worked for us:

  • Swaddling – It is said that tight swaddling provides an environment similar to the tight space in the mother’s womb. Our son enjoyed being swaddled for the first couple of weeks. I believe that it did help him settle and sleep more, however, once he was a few weeks old, he would struggle every single time he was swaddled to get his arms out. We no longer swaddle him at 7 weeks.
  • Side/stomach position – While holding your baby in your lap, place them either on their left side to assist in digestion, or on their stomach to provide reassuring support. My son continues to enjoy being held with him lying sideways with his back against my stomach. I put some pressure on his stomach with my arm. This is a position that tends to soothe him when he is fussy.
  • Shushing Sounds – Basically what is meant by “shushing sounds” is white noise. Babies are soothed by sounds similar to those that they heard while in the womb. From the moment my son was born, if we do a loud, long “sushhhhhhhhh” (not “sh sh sh sh” the way we instinctively sush a baby) sound in his ear, it calms him down almost immediately. This has been one of the most helpful tricks that we learned. We also have a white noise machine in his bedroom. I’m not convinced yet if this works to keep him asleep, but it will help later on when his ears are more sensitive to noise and becomes more easily disturbed during his sleep.
  • Swinging – This is another step that is said to mimic what the newborn was used to inside the mother’s uterus. My son enjoys his automatic swing. He also enjoys us rocking him to help him settle. One trick that I learned was to swaddle a newborn prior to placing them in the swing. You can still strap them in, and they feel more secure.
  • Sucking – Sucking triggers the calming reflex. Babies are born with the need to suck. Some more than others. Both of my children have been “suckers”. Even though it is often considered a “no no”, we gave my son a pacifier when he was in the hospital to help him stay calm in his incubator during his photo therapy treatments. If it hadn’t been for his pacifier, he would have had to stay under the lights much longer as he cried every time we put him in the incubator.

I am very glad that I watched Dr. Karp’s video before my son was born. Although most of the five S’s are common sense or instinctive, he definitely had some unique spins to them that have certainly helped us have a happier baby!


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