This guy has some great ideas. Stuff we do lots of times anyway but he kind of puts it all together. We bought his video at work and have been showing it to new parents. I finally watched it a week or so ago and it's great! The babies would be SCREAMING, he would do his steps and they would just quit! Their little eyes would pop open and they would just look around. It's really cool.
"Happy baby doctor" calms colic crying
By Mike Falcon, Spotlight Health with medical adviser Stephen A. Shoop, M.D.
Why do celebrity parents like Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Pierce Brosnan appear so calm and rested in the first few months after their babies' birth - while other parents look like poster-children for sleep deprivation torture?
One answer may be Santa Monica pediatrician and celebrity advisor Dr. Harvey Karp and the techniques he describes in his best-selling book, The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer.
Karp: "It's typical that both parents and the infant are exhausted."
"It's typical that both parents and the infant are exhausted," says Karp, "particularly in the first few months following birth."
Even the healthiest newborn can arrive with crying challenges that threaten the physical and emotional wellness of the most stable marriages.
"In our culture about 25% of babies cry for two or more hours a day," says Karp. Of those, 15% or so cry for three or more hours a day, which Karp says is the definition of colic. With approximately 4 million babies born each year in the USA, this means that about a million babies, their parents, siblings, and often neighbors, are disturbed by what appears to be inconsolable crying.
"Here a first time parent wants nothing more than to see their baby happy," says Karp, "but because the endless crying creates even more stress because the parents can't soothe the baby, the cycle of exhaustion and frustration continues."
According to the expert, a newborn with colic makes it more likely that the parents will increase their own stress levels, raise their blood pressure, and lower their own resistance and immune functions.
Compounding the problem, parents may blame themselves, think they're poor caretakers, or believe something is wrong with the infant. But Karp observes that is overwhelmingly not the case.
"Only about 2% of babies cry because they have something wrong with them, or are allergic to milk," says Karp.
The crying game
Why, then, do so many newborns cry incessantly?
Most babies grow out of crying at about three to four months, notes Karp. That corresponds to what he calls the "missing fourth trimester," the period during which the baby learns that its cries result in feeding, holding, or another change in environment.
In effect, humans are born too early. And the baby's cry, says Karp, is the adaptive survival mechanism it uses to get its mother's attention --- and it works. When caveman moms were gathering food or engaged in other tasks, it was the loud baby who received the attention, food, and protection most quickly.
Why, though, do some babies continue to cry for hours after their mothers feed and hold them?
According to Karp, while stomach, gas, and digestive "problems" are often seen as the principal motivators behind crying and colic, they are not usually the cause. Allergic digestive challenges, maternal stress thought by some to transfer anxiety to the infant, poor mother's milk, an immature brain, and inherent temperament are also frequently recounted as reasons behind a crying baby.
But while these definitely can affect the infant, when allergens were removed, foods examined, and temperament looked at more closely, there were still big differences between colic-plagued American infants and babies in other cultures who cry less vociferously and for shorter periods of time.
Relatively recent research into the Kalahari bushmen shows that "90% of their babies' crying end in less than a minute," reports Karp.
Karp says recreating the missing surety of the womb environment has a critical role in soothing the crying infant and reducing emotional distress in the first few months of life.
Using cross-cultural techniques combined with his own research, Karp has developed the "five S's system" that initiates and maximizes the infant's own built-in calming reflex:
Swaddling- Tight swaddling provides the continuous touching and support the fetus experiences within the womb.
Side/stomach position- The infant is placed on his left side to assist in digestion, or on his stomach to provide reassuring support. "But never use the stomach position for putting your baby to sleep," cautions Karp. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to stomach-down sleep positions. When a baby is in a stomach-down position do not leave them-even for a moment.
Shushing sounds-- These imitate the continual whooshing sound made by the blood flowing through arteries near the womb.
Swinging- Newborns are used to the swinging motions within their mother's womb, so entering the gravity-driven world of the outside is like a sailor adapting to land after nine months at sea. "It's disorienting and unnatural," says Karp. Rocking, car rides, and other swinging movements all can help.
Sucking- "Sucking has its effects deep within the nervous system," notes Karp, "and triggers the calming reflex and releases natural chemicals within the brain."
Karp's Happiest Baby video provides the subtle and precise cues that make the process even more replicable, "so that people whose learning best involves visual processing have all the details right in front of them."
But can sleep for your baby actually be spelled with five S's?
Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Pierce Brosnan all think so. All have used and recommend Karp's techniques. And according to Karp, some emergency room physicians are using the five-step system before administering often painful tests on incessantly crying infants.
The book's continuing status as a best-seller speaks volumes.
"What we've needed for a very long time is something that works," says Karp. "What satisfies me endlessly is hearing parents who say they tried everything until they tried the five S's."