One of the most exciting–and at the same time quite belated–discoveries of recent days–is the amazing effectiveness of Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s. Had I known then what I know from his appearance at the recent Postpartum Support International (PSI) conference in Seattle last weekend, my daughter’s colic–to which I’ve referred as the straw that broke the camel’s back–may not have sent me spiraling quickly into a sudden, and quite unexpected, trip down PPD lane.
Dr. Karp started his session with the PSI attendees with an introduction on how he began studying colic and newborn crying in the early 1980s. He mentions that all infants are born with an “off” switch for crying, but as the brain develops, it becomes less of a reflex and more of a behavioral thing.
Here are the 5 S’s:
1 – swaddling (with 42″ blanket) – to simulate the in utero experience for the baby. Click here for my previous post on swaddling (which happens to be extremely popular).
2 – side/stomach – again, to simulate the in utero experience (baby’s do not lie flat in the womb, but that’s what we expect them to do in their cribs).
3 – shushing (or white noise CD) – again, to simulate the in utero experience (Dr. Karp explains that shushing and the white noise CD generates sounds of a certain frequency, which reminds the baby of the sounds he/she used to hear while in the womb.
4- swinging/swaying (or rocking or gently bouncing) – similar to the YouTube video below
5 – sucking – one of the only instincts the baby is born with, other than swallowing (to survive, one must eat) and breathing. You can have the baby suck on mom’s breast, a bottle, a finger or a pacifier.
In the videos I saw of the 5 S’s in action, the baby instantly stops crying by step 3 (shushing). Some babies stop with the first S (maybe not necessarily if they are colicky), some stop by the 3rd S, some stop by the 4th S, and some need all 5 S’s. Every baby is different. I REALLY wish I had known about these steps. I would’ve tried them.
See the amazing process in action being performed by parents on YouTube. See it to believe it! It’s fascinating how the baby would be deliriously screaming like there’s no tomorrow to instantly (I kid you not) ceasing as soon as the 3rd step is carried out. As soon as that baby hears the shushing, their eyes grow big and round and crying instantly stops. Everytime I see that, I get the chills.
Before I saw the videos, I would’ve absolutely been skeptical. I have a copy of his Happiest Baby on the Block book. But did I read it? Yes. Well, actually, I speed-skimmed my way through relevant points I was looking for. But you can only get so much out of reading. You really need to see it being done by someone else and doing it yourself…which is why Dr. Karp created a DVD. He’s also developed a Happiest Baby educator program, in which his is used to teach others how to perform the 5 S’s, whether it be parents or infant educators to become certified to teach a Happiest Baby class.
I just can’t believe I didn’t know the 5 miraculous steps that can instantly elicit a newborn’s calming reflex. I believe that if all parents were to be trained this technique as part of every hospital’s childcare training, we should see a decrease in the number of moms suffering from postpartum depression. Heck, we may even see a decrease in divorces from stress suffered by parents…and on an even more somber note, a decrease in the number of babies shaken to death.
If you are a new parent and need help with soothing a baby that may or may not have colic, give the 5 S’s a try. Click here for a very informative article on Parentmap.com that I just stumbled across. And click here to read my previous post on colic. Click here for visit Dr. Karp’s website for more information.