Calming the Baby By the Book

by Jan Gambino Patient Expert

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. is a popular parenting book. I met up with Dr. Karp recently and he told me about his newly revised book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block and his parenting classes.

Dr. Karp's book describes a practical, step by step approach to calming a crying baby. The Five S's are: Swaddling, Side-Stomach positioning, Shhhhing (soothing sound), Swinging and Sucking. Parents around the world have successfully used these techniques to sooth and calm their infants during the first few weeks and months of life when crying is an issue for many parents.

When a baby has Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), crying is often the way a baby communicates about her pain and discomfort. It can be challenging for parents to figure out the meaning of the cry (hungry, wet, sleepy, pain) and some parents spend their entire existence trying to calm a baby with reflux. Parents caring for an infant with reflux may want to consider these powerful calming methods in their "calming and soothing toolbox".

There is a great deal of concern that too many crying babies are being diagnosed with reflux. It can take a bit of time and observation of symptoms for parents and doctors to determine if infant crying is an indicator or a medical problem or not. Trying a non medical approach to infant crying can be a powerful tool for parents and doctors. To that end, Dr. Karp has developed DVD's to teach parents the Five S's and a CD of calming sounds. Doctors, nurses, lactation specialists, parent educators and prenatal birth instructors have been trained to teach classes to parents. To date approximately 1700 educators have been trained in the United States and 2600 worldwide. The Happiest Baby website at has a list of instructors in the United States. Several states including Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Utah and Connecticut have set up more comprehensive programs. If there isn't a trained educator in your community, parents can purchase a DVD to watch at home and share with grandparents and day care providers.

It is exciting to me as a parent of a formerly unhappy baby to know that parents will have access to practical tools in their home and community to calm their crying babies. In my book, Reflux 101: A Parent's Guide to Gastroesophageal Reflux, I wrote, "This is the book I wish I had when struggling with my daughter's reflux. Like every parent, I wished my girls came with a set of instruction. This is especially true when you have a baby or child with gastroesophageal reflux. "It can be extremely lonely and exhausting to try to calm a crying baby at home with no one there to offer guidance and support. Dr. Karp's excellent book, The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help your Baby Sleep Longer is the kind of "set of instructions" all parents will need at some point when the baby just won't stop crying.

Jan Gambino
Meet Our Writer
Jan Gambino

Jan wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Acid Reflux.