Happiest Baby on the Block
by Harvey Karp
Gentle, practical and fun, US pediatrician Harvey Karp’s outrageously successful guide is short enough to be able to read in a hurry with a newborn crying in the next room – although we recommend getting started on it sooner. Karp (and our own Baby Sleep Consultant Emma Purdue, see page 64) is a promulgator of the Five S’s: swaddling, side or stomach position (for calming, not sleeping, which should always be on the back), shushing, swinging or rocking, and sucking. The five S’s are all techniques to trigger your baby’s calming reflex, which allows them to naturally drift off to sleep. Each baby will respond to a different set of calming techniques, so you’ll need to figure out which of the five is your baby’s magic ‘off switch’. Shushing includes white noise – sounds in the womb can reach 65 decibels (a vacuum cleaner is about 70). Karp is a fan of white noise, as it helps distract babies from external disturbances. If it works, play it during the sleep routine, and all night. Expect to nurse your baby 10-12 times a day during the first month, says Karp. You should get 3-4 hour stints free at night. More sleep boosts a mother’s milk supply, lowers the risk of mastitis, and reduces anxiety and depression, he says. Three-week-old babies usually sleep in blocks of 2-4 hours with alternating hour-long waking periods. By three months it may be 5 plus hours in a row. Most babies don’t sleep through the night even at six months, so it’s key to get them back down quickly. Keeping babies awake during the day doesn’t help them to sleep at night; in fact, the opposite. Feed your baby during the day every 1.5-2 hours and put to sleep before they become yawning and droopy. If they nap over 2 hours, wake them up. Feed in a quiet room, so there are no distractions. One study of breastfed babies found two scheduling things worked in the first two months – waking them for a night feed 10pm-midnight, and responding to night-time cries with a few minutes of holding or a nappy change before feeding.
real parents say
“We used the Five S’s on both our babies in the first three months, which Karp calls the fourth trimester, and found they worked brilliantly. Both babies loved to be swaddled, and my first born had a dummy, as sucking was one of his main calming reflexes. My second baby refused to take a dummy but he loved white noise, and in the early days this would send him quickly off to sleep. The only catch was it had to be on all night or he would wake up. At first I used a white noise app on my phone, then I bought a small battery-powered device. If the batteries ran out in the middle of the night we knew all about it!” Bianca Zander, Little Treasures Editor