I’ve had to read lots of books on my doula journey. (and I totally geeked out on the book reports!) This book wasn’t on my official reading list, but it is one of my favorites and the methods and advice are my first choice when talking about how to care for newborns. Today I’ll be reviewing The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp, M.D.
This book is everything that I tell my clients! There are two main components to this method of babycaring- the concept of the fourth trimester and the method of triggering the calming reflex through the 5 S’s of soothing.
The reason I like the way these two ideas work together is because they work on an intellectual and physical level- which is vital for parents in the first months of caring for a new life. Intellectually, there is information and good scientific reasoning behind why babies cry and fuss. They’re born underdeveloped, and need their caregivers to understand that they need a womb-like fourth trimester to continue to grow. I think that giving parents science and reasoning behind baby behavior helps so much more than saying, “Well… babies just cry.” Yes, they do just cry, but knowing the reasoning behind some fussy behavior can help parents deal with it in a calm and gentle way. Then, physically, there is something to do! Use the physical methods of the 5 S’s, and figure out what works for you and your unique baby.
Let’s talk about those 5 S’s! You know that old saying, “All babies do is eat, sleep and poop”? It can be so true! Except that sometimes they cry. And sometimes they cry a lot. And sometimes they cry a lot when all mama wants to do is sleep for at least three hours, please.
So what do you do when baby is crying? Are they hungry? Do they need to be changed? Are they hot? Cold? Sleepy? Need to poop? If the answer is none of the above, The Happiest Baby on the Block recommends moving through these five steps: Swaddling, Side/Stomach positioning, Shushing, Swinging, and Sucking.
Even though the steps seem self-explanatory, and lots of good info on them can be found online, I highly recommend reading through this book. (There’s even a DVD, and a toddler version of the book!) There is so much good info in here- from history and cultural differences in how babies are cared for around the world, to explanations and reasoning behind colic, safe sleeping tips, a great “When to Call the Doctor” chapter, and a section on self-care for new parents.
Did you read this book or try out any of the baby soothing methods? Did it work for you?
Tell us your experience by commenting below!