Saturday, February 16, 2008

Do you want to have the happiest baby on the block?

Who wouldn't? If you are a busy parent and can't find the time to read an entire book...well you've come to the right place! Over the last few years, I have been building my library of baby and parenting books and now I am going to share the information I have learned. The first book I would like to share with you is "The Happiest Baby on the Block" by Harvey Karp, M.D. This book is the perfect choice for you if your baby is a newborn but also appropriate for any baby under 4 months old. The main focus of the book are the 5 S's (I will explain). They will make your baby calm and have them sleeping well. Check out the review and see what you think...

The Happiest Baby on the Block
By Harvey Karp, M.D.

What are the 5 S’s? Ways to imitate qualities of the womb to turn on baby’s calming reflex.
1. Swaddle tight
2. lay baby on side or stomach
3. Shh loudly or use white noise
4. Swing vigorously
5. Suck on pacifier/nipple

Doing these 5 things in order = the “Cuddle Cure” to get baby to stop crying. Do as much as needed because it is impossible to spoil your baby in the first 3 months!

Your baby really needs a 4th trimester. From birth to 3 months-imitate the womb to soothe baby. Baby really needs this time to be fully mature but it can’t stay inside mom anymore or else it would be too big to be born and would get stuck.

Baby’s calming reflex: rocking and noise like in the womb triggers this reflex. It was used in the womb so baby wouldn’t move around and possibly injure mother or get baby stuck or wrapped in the cord. The baby was in a protective trance in the uterus and also used to being held and fed 24 hours a day. Going from cozy womb to empty room upsets baby-they are used to being with mom nonstop for 9 months.

Reason the baby is colicky: it can not self soothe. It needs the 4th trimester to get ready for the world…senses, social and motor capabilities, and psychological characteristics aren’t ready yet. Baby seems to wake up at 4 months old!

Top 10 ways to imitate uterus
1. holding
2. dancing
3. rocking
4. wrapping
5. white noise/singing
6. car ride
7. walking
8. feeding
9. pacifier
10. swing

Back to the 5 S’s
Swaddle: makes baby feel like it’s in the womb (tight fit and continuous touch). Keeps them from flailing and helps them pay attention. They lack coordination and can’t control their arms.

Side/Stomach position: this is the feel good position for baby. They don’t feel like they are falling. Carry them around like a football-this is what they were like in the uterus. ALWAYS PUT THEM ON THEIR BACK FOR SLEEPING!

Shh: a baby’s favorite sound. Harsh and loud noise mimics the uterus-remember they were surrounded by noise for 9 months. It is impossible for a noise to be too loud for them because their eardrums are not mature yet. Their muffled hearing makes your quiet house seem extra quiet and they will cry from sensory depravation. When they are crying put your mouth 2-4 inches away from their ear and make shh sound as loud as their crying is and soften as they are calming down. Some substitutes for Shh: hair dryer, vacuum, fan, running water, white noise machine, cd of white noise sounds, toy bear with recorded sounds of the womb, static on radio or baby monitor, dishwasher, car ride, and clothes dryer with sneakers or tennis balls inside (DO NOT EVER PLACE BABY ON TOP OF THE DRYER).

Swinging: laying motionless is disorienting and unnatural for a baby. They like continuous and jiggly movement. Start out vigorous if they are crying and then change to gentle motion to keep them calm. Babies are used to continuous motion and do not like the stillness of a crib. Babies love carriers and slings because of the motion and warmth, as well as scent, touch, and sound of mom. Some ways to swing/move your baby: carrier or sling, dancing, baby swing, rhythmic patting on back or bottom, hammock, rocking chair, car ride, vibrating bouncy seat, bouncing on exercise ball, and brisk walks. Swinging must be fast & jiggly (movement of the head-not body-triggers the calming reflex). Follow baby’s lead and be more jiggly when they are agitated and reduce the pace when they calm down. Remember jiggling is NOT like shaking!! Your movements should be tiny, baby’s head should not be flailing and always be in line with their body. (No whipping actions at all!)

Tips for getting the most out of your baby swing: Start early at 3 weeks old. Don’t put them in if they are screaming-they should be settled. Swaddle them but make sure all straps are secure. Recline as much as possible. Jiggle the seat for 20 seconds if they start to fuss. Use the fastest speed unless they are already sleeping when you put them in. Use white noise while swinging. Practice makes perfect-after baby is in it a few times, it might make them happy as soon as you put them in.

Swings are not bad for babies! Just make sure their necks are ok when they are in it. Swinging does not make babies spit up, it may make them burp. It can not make them nauseous. If the baby likes swinging they will not get tired of it.

Sucking: releases chemicals in their brain to make them relax. It makes them feel good-satisfies their hunger and turns on calming reflex.

Sucking for soothing is called non-nutritive sucking. It is for comfort, lessens stress, can decrease suffering from shots or circumcision, and lowers risk of SIDS. How to succeed with pacifiers: Try different ones. Don’t force it if they don’t want it-try to calm them another way and then try offering it again when they are calm. Train them to hold on to it (only when they are calm) by tugging on it lightly 10-20 times and they will respond by resisting-sucking harder and gripping better.

Some potential pacifier problems:
Nipple confusion-breast fed babies may get confused. Avoid bottles and pacifiers for 2-3 weeks if you are breastfeeding (possibly longer if you are having problems breastfeeding). Buy only clear silicone and not yellow rubber pacifiers because the chemicals can transfer to baby when they deteriorate from use. Don’t dip into anything to make baby want to suck on it more. Keep them clean by washing when you buy and rinse off several times a day. Do not hang around baby’s neck. Get rid of pacifier by 5 months because they can suck on their fingers by then. By 6 months or older it is more difficult to give up because they develop a security/emotional relationship. If the baby fusses within the first 5 minutes of sucking on the pacifier they are probably hungry.

Doing the 5 S’s successfully might take a few tries because the baby’s brain will have trouble paying attention and processing what you are doing. Some more tricks to calming colicky babies are massages, walks outside, and extra warming.

Massage-15 minutes a day makes them cry less, be more alert and engaged, gain weight faster and have less stress
Walks outside-they are exposed to calming images and soothing rhythms, possibly get bored sitting at home all the time
Extra warming-warm bath, blanket, hat & socks, and hot water bottles make them cozy and comfortable. DON’T OVERHEAT! (If baby’s ears and toes are red and hot or their armpits are sweaty they are too hot!)

Approximately 10% of colicky babies have a food allergy. Try eliminating certain foods or changing formula to see what happens. You should see improvement in 2-4 days. The most common allergy in babies is dairy.

Colicky bottle fed babies may be constipated. Try changing formula, diluting formula, massage, or insert a Qtip with Vaseline you-know-where.

Baby may be crying because they aren’t getting enough milk. (Especially with breast feeding because you do not know how much they are getting.) Also some moms and babies have trouble nursing. Baby may also be crying because there is too much milk. It is possible for too much to come out of breast or bottle for them. Approximately 3% of babies have acid reflux: signs are crying during or right after feeding.

Bottle fed babies tend to sleep longer than breast fed babies because the formula sits in the stomach longer. Normally babies sleep 14-18 hours a day. By 3-4 months old, they need to learn how to fall asleep on their own and put themselves back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night.

Weaning off the 5 S’s:
Sucking: Wean off first. They need to learn how to fall asleep without something in their mouth. This is the least reliable for keeping baby asleep because pacifier can fall out or baby can spit it out.
Swinging: by 2-3 months old, reduce to lowest speed. If they still fall asleep try letting them fall asleep with the swing not moving. Baby should be out of the swing by 3-4 months old.
Swaddling: start by wrapping them with one arm out. If they sleep well then try wrapping with both arms out. Baby should be out of swaddle by 3-6 months old.
Shh: wean off over a 2 week period. Gradually lower the white noise volume until you can eventually turn it off. Baby should be sleeping in a quiet room between 3 and 12 months.

Try to put your baby on a schedule (depending on how good they are at putting off eating or sleeping). Best way is between 1-2 months increase time between feedings to 3 hours. Get them to go to sleep without a nipple in their mouth and make sure their eyes are open when you are putting them down to sleep. Baby will sleep longer during the night if they eat well during the day. Wake to eat if they sleep for more than 4 hours, feed in a quiet room so they do not get distracted and refuse to eat, cluster feed in the evening (feed every 2 hours), make sure to wake them for midnight feeding. Keeping baby up during the day does not make them sleep better at night. Let them sleep in swing, sling, or bouncy seat so they have constant touch and motion. This will make them calmer at night because they will need less stimulation from you. Turn down the lights in the evening to signal to them that it’s bedtime. Darkness quiets their nervous system and helps them relax.

Decide if you want to co-sleep with your baby for extra bonding and companionship. Make sure you stop by 4-5 months before they get used to it…the longer you do it, the harder it is for the baby to stop. Ways to keep baby safe in your bed-don’t have extra pillows or loose bedding, do not sleep on a waterbed or couch, make sure there are no spaces between the mattress/wall/headboard that the baby could get trapped in, use a co-sleeper attachment, always keep them swaddled so they can’t move, make sure they are sleeping on their back, do not smoke or drink, and do not co-sleep if you are obese.

Other information about sleeping, feeding, etc.

The reason that your baby wakes up when you put him asleep into his crib is because the crib is quiet and still unlike your cuddling. Try the 5 S’s to get them back to sleep.

If your baby falls asleep while feeding you should still burp them and change their diaper even if it makes them wake up. They should go back to sleep quickly because they are full.

How to tell if the baby is too hot or too cold: if ears and toes are red, sweaty and warm baby is too hot. If they are cold and blue baby is too cold.

Baby can have trouble sleeping if they are having a growth spurt-they will need more frequent feedings.

Breast milk: First 5 minutes is more watery and after 10-15 minutes is very rich. Your baby is not ok with one breast per meal if they feed too often or are not gaining weight. You should switch to both breasts-1st side for 7 minutes and then switch for 15 minutes or longer on the other side.

If baby wakes up when the sun rises try black out curtains, white noise machine, or bring them to bed with you.

It is ok for baby to sleep in the carrier.

It is not ok for baby to sleep on parent’s chest-they can fall off if you are both asleep!

-----The End-----

4 month old baby has increased control, can handle being upset without crying, can reach out manually and socially, can use their hands, can smile, and wants to be on their back instead of tummy so they can see everything and play.

10 Red Flags to call the doctor: most colicky babies are not sick. If they are growing well and acting normal in all other ways, and also calm for long periods during the day it is probably not anything serious. However call the doctor if you see any of these symptoms…

1. Persistent moaning/weak crying that lasts for hours
2. Super shrill crying
3. vomiting-if it is green or yellow OR more than 5 times a day over 1 oz.
4. Constipation or bloody diarrhea
5. Fussing during eating (twisting/arching/crying)
6. Abnormal temperature (over 100.2 or under 97.0)
7. irritability-crying all the time
8. lethargy-sleeping too much and not eating enough
9. Bulging soft spot on their head
10. Poor weight gain (under ½ oz. per day)


Pam said...

Oh! Where were you when I was up all night for the first 3 months crying and wondering what in the world I was going wrong!! This is very helpful info for new and veteran parents....I'm so glad you posted it!

Danielle said...

Thanks for your review! I am so excited you will be helping me with the blog.

jennwa said...

That was alo of great info., I could have used it for my first baby. Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

i read this book when i was pregnant and i laughed all the way through it, thinking i will never need to do all these complicated things cuz i wil ofcourse have an "easy" baby cuz me and my husband were said to be very easy babies..anyhow, my baby came and the nightmare began lol..she was extremely colicky and can stay up all day and night screaming and it was terrible.. i tried using dr karps techniques and i was met with waves of disapproval from everyone around me which made reluctant to use them. anyway after two months of tryin to use them on and off and using many other things i was fed up and decided i'm going to reread the book and follow it literally. i did. it wasnt magic, but it certainly made a difference. my baby is now 4 months old and sleeps quite well and is only a bit fussy but a delight still. my problem is, i'm terrified of weaning her off the 5 s's, we still swaddle and use white noise ven for feedings not only sleep and she sleeps while breastfeeding or in the swing or while rocking or walking. i tried weaning her off one thing at a time but she doesnt seem ready. if she sleeps without my breast then she needs the rocking and when i swaddle her with one arm out she wakes up immediately, same goes for the white noise. could someone tell me how they weaned their baby off the 5s's in detail plz???

The Howard Bunch said...

When I googled this book your site came up. I absolutely love this book so far (I'm only on Chapter 5 - and will be a first time mom in July) and I absolutely love your website!

Dinga said...

I was trying to get an idea of what the book was all about without taking the time to read it so thank you! This was perfect. I appreciate your review...

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Unknown said...

What a really nice Swing and Go item. These really work in keeping baby soothed and relaxed. My sister has one like this and she can not live without it. When she is making dinner, she is able to keep baby soothed in this swing. Great product! Visit my web site.

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