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What Is Harvey Karp's "Happiest Baby" Method?

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When it comes to getting your new baby to sleep, it seems like everyone has advice. Your family, your friends, and even sometimes random people who stop you on the street will be eager to share their foolproof tricks. If your experience is anything like mine, someone will probably recommend a book by Dr. Harvey Karp and tell you to get started ASAP. But what is Harvey Karp's "Happiest Baby" method, exactly?

Well, it's actually pretty simple to follow. Karp's book The Happiest Baby On The Block lays out what he calls the Five S's: swaddle, side or stomach position, shush, swing, and suck. According to the official Happiest Baby website, Karp believes these things help recreate what it's like in the womb for a baby, which comforts them and gets them to stop crying.

For the first step, all you need is a swaddle blanket. Cafe Mom noted that you can learn how to swaddle a baby in a few simple steps, but if you're nervous, you can also buy a baby sleep sack that does the work for you. In addition to making them feel like they're snuggled back in the womb, swaddling also helps with babies and the startle reflex according to What to Expect. Babies will often wake themselves up suddenly by throwing their arms out and bringing their knees in. Swaddling keeps them from doing that.

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The second step of Karp's method, side or stomach position, is simple. Although babies should sleep on their backs, Karp says that position isn't great for calming them down. He recommends holding them on their side or stomach instead.

The next step, shush, is one that I totally understand as someone who needs white noise all night long. As Popsugar noted, white noise can help babies sleep because it's another way to imitate the womb. Karp sells a CD to accompany his book, but you can also find tons of free white noise clips on YouTube.

The fourth S, swing, doesn't necessarily mean you have to run out and buy a baby swing if you don't already have one. Although a baby swing may be a big help, you can also recreate the motion yourself.Simply sway back and forth like a metronome to calm your baby down, and that image would pop into my head every time I tried it.

The last S, suck, might be the easiest of all. If you've got a pacifier, you're all set. Many parents, my husband and I included, find that pacifiers help babies sleep. One of the cons of using a pacifier, according to Baby Center, is jumping up in the middle of the night to find it after it inevitably falls out of your baby's mouth.

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The "Happiest Baby" method may be the key to getting better sleep for both you and your baby. Or you may find that some of the steps work you and your baby, while others don't. But if you're desperate for some rest, it's definitely worth a shot.