Book Review: The Happiest Baby on the Block

From goodreads:
In perhaps the most important parenting book of the decade, Dr. Harvey Karp reveals an extraordinary treasure sought by parents for centuries --an automatic “off-switch” for their baby’s crying.

No wonder pediatricians across the country are praising him and thousands of Los Angeles parents, from working moms to superstars like Madonna and Pierce Brosnan, have turned to him to learn the secrets for making babies happy.

Never again will parents have to stand by helpless and frazzled while their poor baby cries and cries. Dr. Karp has found there IS a remedy for colic. “I share with parents techniques known only to the most gifted baby soothers throughout history …and I explain exactly how they work.”

In a innovative and thought-provoking reevaluation of early infancy, Dr. Karp blends modern science and ancient wisdom to prove that newborns are not fully ready for the world when they are born. Through his research and experience, he has developed four basic principles that are crucial for understanding babies as well as improving their sleep and soothing their senses:

My Thoughts:

The 5 “S’s”: the simple steps (swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking). I read most of this book (up to page 175) Then, the last 100 pages I just kind of skimmed. This book was very informative and I imagine that when I actually have a baby will be very helpful. I'm glad I got a general sense of his techniques on how to quiet a crying baby, but until I actually have a baby to apply the techniques too....I couldn't really do anything with it. I think it would be worth it to purchase this book or even the DVD to have on hand in case I need it after the baby is born. There were some interesting tidbits in there though:
  • Breast milk is different over the course of a 10-15 minute feeding session. It starts out watery at first and becomes more creamy by the end. 
  • He refers to the first 3-4 months of a baby's life as the missing 4th trimester and says that babies really just need to be held and coddled as much as possible during those three months. He says there is no way you can over-coddle or spoil in the first 3 months.
  • Parents should use white noise machines, or even things like a hair dryer or vaccum cleaner to calm their baby. Babies are used to the loud whooshing sound of the womb and are actually comforted by these sounds at first. 
I enjoyed reading this book (at least the first large section that I read) and look forward to implementing and practicing the techniques taught here, once the baby is born.

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  1. Fascinating and priceless information. The research on brain development in the womb and during the first three years of life is enlightening. One thing that you didn't mention is that all babies cry more during the second month and we don't understand that yet. The theory is that the brain develops an abundance of dendrites and growth and the baby is just trying to manage all of that. There is also fascinating research on the types of "pre-cry" and what each means. If you can recognize the meaning of the pre-cry you can prevent the hysterical cry. However, all babies are going to go into a hysterical cry at some time and not being able to soothe them is not a commentary on your mothering skills!

  2. Interesting! I never knew those tidbits you listed.

  3. I absolutely LOVED that book and it was a huge help for us. M was a fairly fussy baby until she got out of the 4th trimester and without these techiques I may have lost my mind. We swaddled for all naps after she was 2 weeks old, and I bought an app on my phone that does the "shhhh" noise because I couldn't do it 10 times a day for 30 minutes at a time. We still use white noise at night and probably will for a few years.

    My husband just started reading the Happiest Toddler on the Block. I'm curious to see what techniques are offered in that book!

  4. I read that book when pregnant and for the most part it seemed like pretty good advice especially for newborns, the swaddling and sound machine part especially. We still use a sound maching in Hunter's room and I think it really helps. We also have one in our room because I can't sleep in total silence.


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