Fourth Trimester + Soothing Infants. Harvey Karp's Five S's

If you haven't heard of pediatrician Harvey Karp or his "Happiest Baby" method, grab a glass of wine & sit yourself on down.


Karp's basic theory is that when infants are born they're not ready for our world, and the best way to help ease them from what was their world (mom’s womb) to our world is to try and re-create mom's womb as best we can.

Welcome to your fourth trimester! You just spent the last nine months waiting for your little one to get out of your uterus, and now you’ll spend the next three months trying to re-create that same feeling for them. Karp talks about The Five S’s, which are most useful from birth to around the age of 3 months. He suggest this is most vulnerable time for your infant, but by their third month they should be adjusting to life outside of the womb.


 Here is a list of the Five S’s for soothing infants

1. Swaddle

Swaddling soothes babies by giving them the secure feeling they enjoyed before birth. After months in a constricting environment, Karp says, "the world is too big for them! That's why they love to be cuddled in our arms and to be swaddled." Swaddling keeps your baby's arms from flailing and prevents startling, which can start the cycle of fussing. It also lets your baby know that it's time to sleep. Swaddling helps babies respond better to the other four S's.

2. Side or Stomach

To reduce the risk of SIDS, experts recommend putting babies to sleep on their back. But because newborns feel more secure and content on their side or tummy, those are great positions for soothing (not sleeping). Hold your fussing infant in your arms in a side or tummy-down position in your arms, on your lap, or place him over your shoulder.

3. Shush

Newborns don't need silence. Having just spent nine months inside their mothers body – Mom's blood flow and heart beat makes sounds much louder than even a vacuum cleaner. Infants are happier, able to calm down and they sleep better in a noisy environment. At its simplest, you apply the "shush" step by loudly saying "shhh" into your swaddled baby's ear as you hold her on her side or tummy. Put your lips right next to your baby's ear and "shhh" loudly.

4. Swing

Inside you, your baby was often rocked, jiggled, and swung in many different motions. That makes "S" #4 familiar and comforting. In combination with the first three S's, it can do wonders when a baby is upset.

5. Suck

Some babies love to suck and find great comfort in it. If your baby is one of them, sucking may help him/her relax and calm down. Give your swaddled baby a pacifier or your thumb if she's upset and seems to want to suck. In combination with being held on her side or tummy, being soothed with loud shushing or white noise, and being gently jiggled, sucking may do the trick. Fun Fact: Pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS, so it's okay to let your baby keep the pacifier in bed.

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