The Happiest Baby on the Block | Harvey Karp

Summary of: The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer
By: Harvey Karp


The ‘Happiest Baby on the Block’ is a game-changing book for new parents, guiding them through the trials and tribulations of calming a crying newborn, and helping their baby sleep longer. It explains why babies are born more helpless than other animals, largely due to their big brains, and how crying is an instinctual reaction. Besides, the book offers practical tools to soothe a baby by triggering their calming reflex using the five ‘S’s – swaddling, the side position, shushing, swinging, and sucking. Adopting these strategies helps reassure and calm the child, while providing a much-needed break for parents.

Understanding Why Babies Cry

Babies cry instinctively to ensure they receive proper care. Human babies are born premature due to having large heads, which requires constant attention and care from their caregivers. The article emphasises the importance of responding to a baby’s cries as neglect could lead to breastfeeding problems and even crib death. Colicky babies cry excessively, mostly because they missed the fourth trimester in the womb, not because of any physical ailment. Caregivers can soothe their crying baby by following their instincts and providing them with constant love and attention.

Soothe Your Crying Baby

Babies have a calming reflex that persists after birth. This reflex is vital to help them calm down and prevent them from moving around too much. By triggering this reflex, you can soothe your baby, and as a result, they will become calmer. The calming reflex has five strategies that you can use to help soothe your baby, and we will explore the first two strategies in this summary. Swaddling is the first strategy and involves wrapping your baby in a blanket, while the side position involves placing your baby on its side. Both of these strategies can be tricky to master, and each baby responds to them differently, but it’s worth practicing to help your baby respond to them more and more.

The Benefits of Swaddling

Learn how swaddling and the side position can soothe your baby and break the crying cycle. Swaddling simulates the pressure of the womb, reduces movement for a sense of safety, and decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The side position triggers the calming reflex and should only be used for comforting, not sleeping. Swaddling and the side position can calm your crying baby and provide peace of mind for parents.

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