When I first brought my daughter home from the hospital; I thought there’s nothing to it. I had my own baby-sitting business when I was twelve. I raised my younger siblings; I have been around children almost all my life. How hard could it be? I mean babies sleep most of the time anyways; well, those thoughts quickly changed when my daughter would not go to sleep for hours on end. She would go through her fussy period every evening where nothing I did would console her. Instead, it would upset her more. I was on wits on end. Then I came across this book, The Happiest Baby on the Block and it gave me hope when I felt I was about to lose it.
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp came about when he was a fellow at UCLA as part of the Child Abuse Team. Dr. Karp consulted on several severely injured babies whose screams drove their stressed-out parents to commit horrible acts of abuse. In hopes of eradicating this unthinkable tragedy and help desperate parents everywhere; he began his research on infant sleep and colicky babies. Dr. Karp discovered that the infant development between a newborn and a three month old was astronomical and that in primitive cultures around the world; colic was virtually non-existent. Based upon his research he came up with the four theories to help sleep-deprived parents everywhere and help your baby become happiest baby on the block. The four ideas are
- The missing 4th trimester
- The “Calming Reflex”
- The 5 S’s
- The Cuddle Cure
Babies Need Snug, Womb-like Environment
According to the fourth trimester theory, humans are born three months too early. An evolutionary dilemma is presented by our having a head large enough to contain highly evolved brains and a pelvis designed for walking upright. The solution: we’re born just mature enough to survive, meaning a newborn is far from ready to meet the world. For Karp, it’s simple: babies are unhappy at this age because they miss the womb. Karp feels that instead of trying to teach their newborn about the ways of the world, parents should simply keep their babies snug and happy in a womb-like environment.
This is where the 5 S’s come in. First is swaddling. My daughter was swaddled by all the nurses like a papoose, so when we got home; we continued on this tradition. It did seem to help her settle down although now at two months; she no longer likes to be bundled up. I call this this the burrito.
Holding the baby in side or stomach position. Dr. Karp recommends that you can use this position until you settle the baby down and then turn the baby to the back; how all babies are suppose to sleep (unless your pediatrician says otherwise). This eliminates the startle reflex for some infants, because being on their back might trigger their fear of being dropped.
Shushing: Use loud Shushing noise next to the baby’s ear. Did you know that the sound decibel in the womb is equivalent to a running vacuum cleaner? That is why some babies like the sound of a vacuum cleaner or shower running (would not recommend this route for water conservation) I have a $30 Vick’s Cool Humidifier that we use and works for that “white noise”. Also good in the wintertime to keep the air moist.
Swinging: Need I say more. All babies like to be rocked except for my daughter. When I tried to hold her in my arms; she would arch her back and squirm until I had to put her down. We invested in a Ergo Baby with Infant Insert and it has been a life saver. If your baby doesn’t like to be held (there are actually babies who don’t; come to find out) then try a sling or a baby carrier. I highly recommend the Ergo baby.
Sucking: Of course the answer is BPA free pacifier. Unless you are breastfeeding. Then no introducing the pacifier until couple of weeks. In a study by American Academy of Pediatrics; mothers who introduced the pacifier before six weeks of age would most likely to wean their baby earlier and not continue with breastfeeding. Of course, every baby is different. However, I did notice that first couple of weeks, when I resorted to the pacifier; she could not latch on correctly. So, the pacifier got put away until she was five weeks old. Now, we are going to bronze that baby.
Key is to Use the 5’Ss Simultaneously to soothe a Colicky Baby
Of course, you are thinking by now; Erm yeah, every parents know how to do either one or couple of these things. It’s instinctive. But for a colicky baby, all the 5 S’s have to used simultaneously and it has be repeated until the baby calms down. Even for a non-colicky baby; during the baby’s fussy hour (I think all parents know what this is) this is a useful tool to have.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It offers practical solution to a very stressful and even desperate situations. We all know how jarring a baby’s cry can be and when you can’t soothe your own; it’s heart-wrenching. But this book goes into the biology of the baby’s physiological state which shows why baby’s are colicky. Dispels some common myths that even most pediatricians are taught during their medical training; and offers a practical solution that works. It worked for me. It wasn’t the miracle cure; but it did definitely help.
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[This post was written by Susie Kim.]