my two cents: Happiest Baby on the Block

I decided I’d include some book reviews in my blog for other moms or moms-to-be. My first review is for Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp. ( link)

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Happiest Baby on the Block, $12.41

I purchased this book because it was recommended to me by a friend, who said that it worked wonders with her baby.

Madison was just a few weeks old when I got it and it has some great pointers about how to calm and soothe your baby. I wish I had actually purchased it before our baby was born so that I would have been equipped with some of the skills right off the hop, instead of ordering it after spending countless hours at all hours of the day trying to get Maddy to stop crying.

While the content is undoubtedly a lifesaver with valuable tips on how to stop your baby from crying, the book itself is a waste of paper. The entire first half of the book is just the author going over various theories on what causes colic, why they’re wrong and why he’s right. As a sleep-deprived, time-starved new mother with a screaming 3 week old, I couldn’t care less! Just give me the info and the tools I need to help my baby! The second half is better, but is still overstuffed with testimonials and examples of how effective his technique is.

I do recommend this book since the 5 S’s really DO work, but don’t feel bad about skipping over the first half and all of his real-life examples. By the second half of the book, I was automatically skipping any of the testimonials in italics.

It’s all based on the theory of the “4th trimester”. Basically, he’s saying that babies aren’t actually really ready to be born yet, and aren’t mature enough to handle life outside the womb until they are 3 months old. In order to calm and soothe them, we need to do things that will remind them of what they heard and felt while they were still inside your belly. He calls those things the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side/Stomach lying, Shushing, Swaying/Swinging and Sucking. None of these things were really news to me other than the side/stomach lying, but what’s interesting is how he proposes that you perform them. They should be done in order and in a certain way to be most effective. What we’ve found is that in addition to swaddling, the shushing and swinging are highly effective. They key is how vigorous you are. When baby is wailing, a soft shushing sound doesn’t work. You have to make it as loud as or louder than the volume of her cries, otherwise it won’t work. And when she’s really worked up, a gentle sway doesn’t cut it, you have to swing your arms around a lot and do jiggle her to calm her down. (I’ve nicknamed this move the “jiggle bounce”.)

We’ve demonstrated the shushing to others and it really does work like magic. Most of the time 😉 While it doesn’t necessarily keep Madison calm, it does normally get her to stop crying for a few moments or minutes, which is usually enough time to work your other calming techniques. Of course, nothing works every time, so we still have those instances where she’s just fussy. The one thing this book is really missing is info on how to get your baby to sleep! I’ve often found that at night, I can get her to stop crying, but I’m still left rocking her and shushing her quietly for half an hour before she falls asleep. She just lies there with her eyes wide open at 2:30AM, while I’m trying desperately not to keep my eyes open in the rocking chair.

Bottom line, this book was definitely a lifesaver, so thanks to Sarah for recommending it to me.

Sweet dreams, little Madison!


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