Happiest Baby on the Block – A Book Review

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Categories Book Reviews, Infants, Parenting

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The Happiest Baby on the Block was one of the first books I bought when I found out I was expecting, although at that time I hadn’t discovered I was carrying twins.

The main premise of the book that Dr. Karp really hammers home is that baby humans are not quite ready to be born yet, and that we must recreate a womb-like environment for them during “the fourth trimester,” or the first three months post=partum.

The Five S’s

How do we simulate a womb, you ask? Dr. Karp proposes the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side or Stomach position, Shushing, Swinging and Sucking. These strategies can work alone or layered in various combinations to soothe your fussy baby, and he explains how to do so safely.

Great for First Time Parents

The book is a great tool for new parents, especially for those who have not been around babies. It is very simple information. He explains the basic needs of an infant, and the reasons that the very act of existing in the real world can be enough to make little one cry. He also addresses colic, and interestingly compares different cultures, their attitudes and behaviors towards newborns and their rates of having colicky, fussy babies.

Short on time? Watch the DVD

The only downside is that the book gets a little redundant towards the end. Since I am a book junkie, I enjoyed reading the book, but if you are short on time I would recommend watching the DVD. You’ll see Dr. Karp handle various babies, wrapped up like baguettes, all of whom stop crying as if he’d flipped a switch. The DVD doesn’t convey as much background information on the “why” of the techniques, but it is effective at showing them in action.

What Worked for Us

1) Infants have a strong need to suck, whether that is from the breast or a pacifier. I had been anti-pacifier until reading this, and even had my doubts after the twins were born because I didn’t want to foster any nipple confusion. I waited about a week before giving my exclusively breastfed babies a pacifier, it did help and I didn’t have to feel guilty about it.

2) White noise is a winner. During our oh so brief periods of sleep at night, we had a white noise machine. It had an automatic timer and the longest interval it had was 45 minutes. That didn’t work! Once we got a decent, loud, unlimited white noise machine, the sleeping periods were a little longer. That was great.

It’s important to remember to take it with a grain of salt, of course. My twins certainly didn’t have off switches, not matter how much I rocked them or breastfed them. But for minor offenses, it was good to have these tools handy. There is no magic, really! But it is important to be aware of things that can help you, even if it is just slightly lessening your load.

Mercedes is the still sleep-deprived mother of 16 month old boy/girl twins. She is the author of Twin Manibreasto and blogs at Project Procrastinot.

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3 thoughts on “Happiest Baby on the Block – A Book Review”

  1. Oh, that’s what this book is! I remember learning about the 5 S’s, but didn’t know it was from this book. They totally work. It helped a lot with the twins – the swaddling, the shushing, the swaying, all of it!

    And then my son was totally different. We almost never swaddled him or swayed him or shushed him. No, for him, the best thing is to just lay him in his crib, and THEN he’ll fall asleep just fine. Weird kid. lol

  2. I read this book and enjoyed it. We ultimately went with a mixture of sleep methods, like most people I’m sure. My boss over at Hand to Hold actually met him and said he’s got a lot of great insight/knowledge.

    1. Angela, that’s actually one of the reasons I enjoyed the DVD…was watching him in action. He comes off as a little goofy, but likable! I also started reading Happiest Toddler on the Block but didn’t get through it all the way, but this book seems to have more controversial reviews. I also have the video of that but haven’t seen it yet.

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