TIPS FOR CHILD CARE
By Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP WE HAVE all heard the lament
“Kids don’t come
with instructions.” But what if
they did come with owner’s
manuals? Never again would you feel power-
less while your little one screamed.
The good news is that experts have come
up with some surprisingly effective new
“instructions” that can make any parent feel
smarter and happier.
Baby calming: the five S’s. A key
discovery of the past decade is that all babies
are born with a calming reflex (sort of like an
off and on switch for crying and sleeping).
Like the knee-jerk reflex, the calming
reflex is easy to induce, but you must correctly
follow five simple steps. When done just right,
the five S’s (swaddling, strong shushing, side-stomach position, swinging and sucking)
mimic the sensations babies enjoy 24/7 in
For example, swaddling works best when
you use a big, light blanket (about 42 inches
square) to wrap the baby’s arms very snug at
the sides, leaving the blanket loose enough
around the legs to allow the hips and knees
to bend and move. Be sure not to overheat
Strong shushing can calm many fussy
babies fast, but in less than a minute most of
us run out of breath. Using a CD of white
noise makes a good substitute; just pick the
sound and volume your baby likes best. And
gentle rocking is great for your sleepy little
bug, but fussing is soothed fastest by fast, tiny
(1-inch) jiggly motions, like Jell-O quivering
on a plate.
Baby sleep: swaddling and sound.
Many parents, even many baby experts, have
bought into some sleep ideas that are not
quite right. Here are two baby sleep myths.
Myth 1: Babies should sleep in silence.
Believe it or not, the sound in the womb is
louder than a vacuum. So, a quiet room is
actually pretty weird for babies.
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Tablet or smartphone? Scan or click here to see Dr. Karp’s baby-calming tips in action. (See page 5 for scanning details.)
Myth 2: Babies can’t be trained to sleep
before they’re three months old. Nope! Safe
swaddling plus a CD of special, rumbly white
noise (played for all naps and nights) usually
boost baby sleep one to two hours in the first
month. When the sound is used the entire
first year, it even helps prevent sleep problems due to teething, colds, etc.
Toddler tips. A few surprising “
instructions” can boost your 1- or 2-year-old’s patience
and cooperation—and cut tantrums 50 percent. The key, as odd as it sounds, is to think of
your tot as a little cave kid.
Based on their development, cavemen
were likely not too verbal. We can imagine that
when they were upset, they would spit, scratch
and throw things at each other. Does this
Here’s a key technique to help your upset
tot. “Toddler-ese” is a simple three-step way
to translate anything you want to say into a
simple, more primitive language that’s easy
for a toddler’s mind to understand: ( 1) Use
bite-size phrases, one to three words long; ( 2)
repeat the phrases five to 10 times; and ( 3)
mirror a bit—just one-third—of the toddler’s
upset in your tone of voice and gestures.
Parenting is the toughest—and most
wonderful—job we ever have. Millions of
moms and dads (and grandparents) have
used these simple tips, and I hope they help
you, too. C
Costco Member Harvey Karp, MD, (www.
happiestbaby.com) is creator of The Happiest
Baby, The Happiest Toddler and The
Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep.
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JUNE 2013 ;e Costco Connection 51