The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp, MD
The main idea of this parenting how-to book is that babies younger than 3 months are really not ready to be outside the womb, and when they’re upset, what helps them the most is to approximate the ‘womb experience’ through what Dr. Karp calls the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side, Shh, Swinging, and Sucking. Though the subtitle claims that these methods are new, one of Karp’s main points throughout the book is that these are things that our ancestors and traditional societies today have always done to calm babies. I found most of these practices instinctual; they were things I was already doing because I’d seen my mom do them with my younger siblings, especially saying “shh” and bouncing and offering pacifiers. Dr. Karp’s presentation in this book is perky and upbeat, using puns and other bad jokes, along with lots of anecdotes from parents, quotes, headlines, and cartoons. It’s a quick read and an easy reference for new parents.
I have found Dr. Karp’s methods and ideas to be useful, but not quite life-saving. I’m lucky to have a baby who isn’t “colicky” or especially fussy. But the 5 S’s do help out a lot at night-time and naptime, and thinking of them systematically in this way is useful. My little boy especially likes white noise, and that’s something I might not have tried if the book didn’t emphasize it so much. My mom gave this book to me as a present, and I’m glad I’ll have it on hand to refer to when it comes time to wean Cogan off of his pacifier and swaddle.