Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Happiest Baby on the Block-Review

So I mentioned that hubby and I researched and found a book to help our son with his fussiness and his lack of sleep at night. The book is called The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. There is also a dvd and a cd for white noise sounds. Hubby and I have already decided that if we know anyone who is having a baby we are going to buy them the dvd as a baby shower gift. It's just that worth it. We did the baby classes and whatnot but one evening going over baby basics isn't enough. The lady only mentioned the 5 S's that Dr. Karp developed, but didn't go into detail in how to use them properly and effectively.

So the book goes into why colic doesn't really exist. He mentions that in many societies babies rarely cry, are fed often, and are always swaddled. And these babies rarely cry and if they do their parents can quiet them in seconds. Studying this he developed basic "old fashioned" techniques for quieting babies. These are what he called the 5 S's.

1) Swaddle- swaddling doesn't quiet the baby but it keeps the baby from getting more agitated and makes them feel like they did when they were in the womb, in order to calm a baby you need to swaddle them first, and he shows you how to do it well. We've had the nurses at the hospital show us and even the pediatrician. Our son is a Houdini; he could squirm out of it. So today we bought a swaddle blanket. He can sort of get out of that too. Receiving blankets are too small.

2) Side or stomach laying- this is just for calming a baby. He explicitly says that you should always place a baby on their back to sleep, but for calming a baby, putting them in your lap laying on their side or stomach, or holding them on their stomach and walking around is great.

3) swing- this refers to any motion really. Anything that jiggles them calms them down. That's why putting them in a car seat and driving or taking them for a walk is so great. But you can lie them on their side in your lap and jiggle your knees too. This is great at 2am. Note: Do not vigorously shake a baby especially with their head unsupported. This violent shaking causes brain damage and/or death.

4) Shushing- you know how old ladies shush their grandchildren. Well this lost art works if you do it right. You need to get close to their ear (don't worry babies hearing is a little muffled compared to adults) and make a loud 's' noise in their ear. It should be as loud as their crying. Don't worry; what they heard non-stop in the womb is louder. The sound your arteries made was louder than a vacuum cleaner. And they heard this all day so silence is your enemy not your friend. And music doesn't make a difference. The need some loud white noise like a fan, vacuum, or the radio between two stations

5) Sucking- I stand corrected on the pacifier issue. They are not great for older babies but for babies younger than 4 months they are vital. You can use your own fingers too. New babies can't keep their hands in the mouths which is why you need a pacifier, mom's boobie, or a finger. Sucking is more like the icing on the cake for when baby is especially fussy.

You want to start in the order listed to quiet a fussy baby. Swaddle, then try side-laying, then add swinging, and then shushing, and last sucking.

I was skeptical when I watched the video and read the book. I mean I had heard to do all these things, and was doing them. The key however is how you do them and the order of things. Sure I shushing him, but I wasn't doing it loud enough and close to his ear. We didn't even think that placing him on his side would calm him; we were told to use tummy time as a way for play and developing neck muscles not quieting him.

So for two nights and two days we have used these techniques and they work. Well unless he's hungry. It won't keep him quiet for long if what he really needs is to be fed or to get a diaper change. But once you rule out those two things, it does work. We're able to sleep 3-4 hour stretches whereas before he was up all night long.

Dr. Karp does say that trying to get your baby on a schedule is not an easy task and not to plan on it working. He says your best bet is to follow your child's sleep pattern and to use the techniques to get them to sleep longer stretches. Once they reach 4 months of age you can put them on a schedule and they're awake time and sleep time will be longer in time span and happen in less often cycles. This is also the time that you can relax using the techniques and the binkie can go bye-bye.

Again 5 star review. Definitely works for us. Will definitely give it out to people or recommend to people.

BTW my son is swaddled asleep on his side in my lap after fussing for the boobie. He wasn't hungry; he just likes to nibble.


  1. Glad its working for you. Kalila hated being swaddled lol. We won't do pie's (pacifier) this time.. ignoring that it can interfere w/ nursing esp early on (and on top of that reduces the effectiveness of LAM) we just hated the things. Kalila was given one and attached to it, so we did that w/ her and she'd spit it out constantly and then scream for it. But that's me personally. I won't recommend them to anyone nursing, but if they work for you that's great.

    The swing idea did work great for us... but we used a bouncer instead. Cheaper and worked great. I loved it. And running the vacuum actually helps too lol.

    As for colic... one thing this doesn't mention is that a lot of colicky babies have gas issues. Mylicon or weak anise tea helps wonders if that happens, as does working thier little legs and slight pressure on a certain area of the belly (I have trouble w/ that one, can't figure out how lol).

    Sounds like a good book though.

  2. What's LAM? My internet lingo sucks.

  3. Hold on, gotta look up the spelling is why I used the initials lol.

    Lactational Amenorrhea Method - not something I would use on its own (I still chart) but basically its a form of NFP.. using breastfeeding to delay ovulation. Is about 98% effective on its own as long as you're BFing around the clock (think no more than 3 or 4 hours between feedings), no pie's (pacifier/binkie/whatever you call it lol), no bottles, no solids (which is a no brainer once you get to the end of this), not sleeping through the night... for the first 6 months. Once any of these changes the chance of ovulating goes up. Doesn't mean you will (we used a pie, Kalila slept through at 2 months, and I pumped the occasional bottle... and I still didn't... she was 14 months old before I did again lol), but the percentage changes.

  4. Ah, at this point I'm more concerned about getting enough to eat and enough rest otherwise no amount of breast feeding will be good for me. I've heard about breast feeding delaying ovulation, but I've also heard that it's not precise especially when you start introducing solid foods (which you mentioned). I don't mind having a period again.

  5. Yeah food and sleep are important too lol. And yeah, like i said I don't rely on it alone either... will start charting again as soon as this one is born. Its nice not having a period, but... honestly I was looking forward to it by the time it came last time. Just makes things easier. I'm not gonna rush it though lol. Most (if not all) the things on the requirements list for LAM (which I knew I was forgetting something up there, add in on demand and no feeding schedules) are things I feel pretty strongly about doing to begin with so... eh lol. The only one that doesn't really fit that is the sleep thing.. I like my sleep... and look forward to them sleeping through when they're ready lol.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!