I vividly remember discovering The Happiest Baby on the Block when Sammy was a newborn.
Up to that point, we didn’t have any particular soothing routine that worked consistently with him (or really, that worked at all).
When he was awake, he was crying.
When we tried to put him down for a nap, he was crying.
When he woke up from a nap, he was crying.
Walking him around the living room and bouncing up and down were about the only soothing routine we had. This wasn’t for lack of trying. We tried everything we had heard of, and everything we had read online.
In scouring the internet for information (and coming up empty-handed), I decided to look around and see if there were any books that might describe my son, or show me how to soothe him.
This is when I came across The Happiest Baby on the Block book and DVD.
I remember reading a parent testimonial that said, “This book is worth it’s weight in gold“. With that kind of review, I figured it was worth the small price tag.
So, leaving my screaming son with my husband for a couple of hours, I drove into town to the nearest bookstore and picked up a paperback copy. Not eager to return home right away, I stopped at a cafe, and drinking some dairy-free concoction, I started reading.
I was immediately hooked. He was describing a baby who seemed like he wished he hadn’t been born (yet). A baby who wouldn’t sleep. A baby who cried constantly, and who seemed to be virtually unsoothable.
He was describing Sammy.
I skimmed through the entire book, eager to get home and try out these techniques on Sammy.
I remember having hope for the first time in a long time. What I was reading actually made sense to me. Everything he was describing was so very familiar, and for the first time, I felt like I was on the right track.
When I got home, I excitedly told my husband about the book. Eager to try out the techniques (and to get Sammy down for a much-needed nap), I got my tools together and prepared for battle: My miracle blanket, a pacifier, and a very noisy bathroom fan (looking back, I suspect we would have had even better results from using a different form of white noise or womb sounds), and one extremely unhappy little baby.
Our First Attempt at Using Techniques from The Happiest Baby on the Block
Into the bathroom we went (you have to understand we only had a 2 bedroom townhouse at the time, so Sam either slept in the bathroom or the living room ).
- First I turned on the fan. Because it was broken, it made a very loud, very annoying banging sound, but Sam seemed to like it.
- Next, I swaddled him up as snug as I could, and then hoisted him up high onto my shoulder so his head was fully above my shoulder, NOT with his head resting on my shoulder (important).
- Once he was up on my shoulder, I started bouncing up and down like a crazy woman (I’m so glad my husband never videotaped me doing this!). Not a gentle, slow bounce, but more like a full body, quick, jiggle. At this point his little head was kind of jiggling too, not too hard, but just a slight swaying back and forth.
- I had the pacifier on hand and was ready to use it as the icing on the cake, but turned out, I didn’t need it.
(It’s important to note that at this point, Sammy was screaming bloody murder. Although he needed the swaddle to sleep, he fought it tooth-and-nail).
In less than a minute, Sammy was fast asleep on my shoulder.
I remember coming out of the bathroom and going downstairs where my husband was waiting. He just kind of looked at me, not knowing what to say. Here I was, downstairs, and Sammy wasn’t with me. And he wasn’t crying.
“He’s out“, I said, kind of stunned, and not quite believing it.
Using Dr. Karp’s 5 techniques, I had finally found a surefire way to get my extremely fussy, colicky, high need baby to fall asleep, most of the time in less than a minute.
Every person we talked to for those next few days, my husband would say, “Hey, guess what? We found the coolest book!”.
(We still struggled with getting him to STAY asleep at this point. But when we discovered the swing and coupled it with these techniques we had a WINNER! To read how we successfully used the Fisher Price Cradle Swing, click here).
So, What Exactly is The Happiest Baby on the Block?
The Happiest Baby on the Block is a book, CD & DVD series written and created by nationally renowned paediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp.
In the book, Dr. Karp explains why some babies cry more than others, and exactly what you can do to soothe them. The book covers the following concepts:
The ‘Fourth Trimester’
Babies cry during their first three months (the typical ‘colic’ period) because they are simply born 3 months too early.
In the womb, they were in a safe, snug environment, constantly in motion, subjected to the loud, droning sounds of their mom’s internal workings.
Suddenly they are thrust into the world, and expected to sleep peacefully in their crib, in a quiet room, alone.
And for some babies, this isn’t a problem.
Others, like my Sammy, need constant motion, movement, and white noise in order to fall asleep, or even to be calm when awake.
The Calming Reflex
When using the the 5 S’s (below), the calming reflex is triggered, much like the Patellar reflex is triggered when your doctor hits below your knee with that little hammer.
When a baby’s calming reflex is triggered, they automatically calm down. They can’t not. Just like you can’t stop your leg from kicking when the doctor hits it with the mallet.
The 5 S’s
This is perhaps the most important aspect of the book: 5 simple techniques that have been used to calm babies for thousands of years.
Many moms and grandmas have known how to use these 5 techniques together, but in recent decades, we seem to have lost this bit of wisdom.
- Side-Lying (babies can experience the sensation of falling when held flat on their backs)
- Shushing (a loud, droning, white noise type sound)
The book goes into great detail as to how to properly implement each of these techniques, and how to use them together for maximum benefit.
Implementing even one incorrectly can mean the difference between a sweetly sleeping baby and a screaming one!
The Cuddle Cure
Using the 5 techniques noted above results in the perfect ‘cuddle cure‘. When done correctly, the crying stops, and baby sleeps.
Happiest Baby Demonstration
Pros and Cons of The Happiest Baby on the Block
- Gives you tools to be able to stop your baby’s crying
- High success rate (see research below)
- Increases length of sleep
- Enables baby to fall asleep quickly
- Doesn’t require any specialized equipment (besides a swaddling blanket)
- Inexpensive (especially if you just want to buy the book)
- Can be somewhat pricey if buying the book, CD & DVD
- Techniques may not work if not done just right
- Some may find the techniques simplistic (I disagree, but some people have said this)
Research on The 5 S’s
A study done in Boulder, Colorado had public health nurses learn and then teach the Happiest Baby calming techniques to new parents of fussy babies.
The findings? in 98% of cases, there was a significant improvement in the parents’ ability to calm their baby.
In the one case where it didn’t work? The baby was found to have an acute illness.
Not bad results!
Do You Need the CD & DVD, or Just the Book?
We just read the book, and were able to calm Sammy immediately with the techniques we learned.
That said, I wish now that we had invested in the CD & DVD because:
- We continued to have difficult keeping Sammy asleep.
- The bathroom fan, while better than nothing, was probably the root of our problem when it came to keeping Sammy asleep. I think a better white noise would have been far more effective.
The DVD is ideal if you don’t have the time or energy to read the book, or if you learn better by seeing something done, rather than just reading about it.
Also, if you’ve read the book, and find the techniques just aren’t working, I’d highly recommend picking up the DVD. You may think you’re using a technique properly, however when you see it done properly, it’s often easier to see where you’re going wrong.
(Note: In an interview I did with Dr. Karp, I asked him if the DVD was really necessary, of if parents could just read the book. His response? Simply reading the book is like learning to tie your shoes by reading about it. It’s much easier to learn the proper implementation of the 5 S’s by actually seeing it done successfully).
If you’ve found a good white noise or womb sound that works for you in terms of getting your baby to sleep, and helping him or her stay asleep, look no further. If you’re wearing out your vacuum cleaner or need a more portable solution, I’d recommend the Happiest Baby CD.
Happiest Baby Customer Reviews
The Happiest Baby on the Block book: Average customer review on Amazon:
The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD: Average customer review on Amazon:
The Happiest Baby on the Block CD: Average customer review on Amazon:
How to Buy
In store: You can purchase The Happiest Baby Book at local bookstores, and the DVD & CD at local music or electronic stores.
Without hesitation, I can say that this is the one product I could not have lived without when Sammy was a baby.
I went from feeling completely incompetent as a parent, (“Who can’t soothe their own baby?!“), to having the tools and knowledge necessary to calm my colicky baby within minutes or even seconds.
I would recommend this product to any new parent, but especially to any parent who has a fussy, colicky or high need infant.
You will NOT regret it!