The Happiest Baby on the Block Can Be Your Baby


By Betsy Stalcup, founder and executive director of Healing Center International

The Happiest Baby on the Block can be your baby! When I look back on my life, one of the hardest yet most joyful seasons was when my babies were getting me up at night. The look in their eyes that said, "Mommy you are my world," delighted my heart but the sleep deprivation was brutal. One night as I paced the floor holding my sleepless baby, a horrible recurring thought kept popping into my brain: Toss her into the swimming pool. She won’t make a sound! Then you can go back to sleep! 
Arggghhh, I would moan as my heart beat fast with terror, Oh Lord, help me.
Then it would cycle through my weary brain again.

Obviously (and thankfully!) I never threw her in the pool. That sweet baby girl is now 37 years old and the mother of two of her own adorable girls. I recently asked her which book, of the stacks and stacks of books she has read, was the most helpful. The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp, M.D. was her response. I immediately went out and bought the book.
I wish this book had been around when my children were little. The subtitle says it all: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer. The author, a pediatrician, knew little about soothing babies when he emerged from medical school, yet wanted to help desperate parents of colicky babies. He began studying how other cultures calm their babies and summarized what he gleaned into five S’s:

  1. Swaddling

  2. Side/Stomach

  3. Shushing

  4. Swinging

  5. Sucking

The five S’s are easy to learn but must be done correctly. There are a number of videos online that demonstrate proper technique and the book has great line drawings that show you what to do. One of my favorite videos (less than two minutes) is here. Karp says that “parents do many of these things intuitively, but they may not be doing them correctly. You have to do them exactly right, or they don’t work.”
If you like you can skip the first 98 pages of the book (chapters 1-7)[1]where the author spells out why you should give his methods a try and jump to the practical advice that starts on chapter eight and continues to chapter 12. In those five chapters, the author describes his clever five S’s.

For example, the swaddling must be tight across the arms but loose through the hips. The shushing must be loud, as loud as the noise of the blood rushing through mommy’s body in utero—as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Also the swaddling only works for the first four or five months of life. Still, anything that gets baby sleeping better and longer will help the entire family.
If you are an expectant mom or dad, or the parent of a newborn, I recommend you buy the book and read it. Even if you aren’t expecting a little one, reading the book or watching the videos will enable you to be a better babysitter for those tired moms in your life. You can also give the book to the expectant mothers you know. Better yet, spread joy by starting a support group for those mothers in your home and demonstrating what to do.
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[1] I don’t agree with all of the author’s ideas including the hypothesis that we are born three months too early.*|END:IF|*