By Harvey Karp
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 powerless 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-stom-ach position, swinging and sucking) mimic
the sensations babies enjoy 24/7 in the womb.
For example, swaddling works best when
you use a big, light blanket 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 the baby.
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
or 2. 5 cm) 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.
Myth 2: Babies can’t be trained to sleep
before they’re 3 months old. Nope! Safe swad-
dling 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 prob-
lems due to teething, colds, etc.
Toddler tips. A few surprising “
instructions” can boost your 1- or 2-year-old’s patience
and co-operation—and cut tantrums 50 per
cent. 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 will 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, M.D., (www.
happiestbaby.com), is creator of The Happiest
Baby, The Happiest Toddler and The
Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep.
Tablet or smartphone?
Watch Dr. Karp’s baby-calming
tips in action on our digital
newsstand (see page 61) and
available in the
i Tunes app store
Sleep Cycle Alarm
Clock (99 cents)
An enhanced alarm
clock that wakes you
during your lightest stage of sleep for
maximum refreshment and minimal
U Search “Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock”
Offers relaxing nature sounds to help
you relax and prepare for sleep
U Search “Naturespace”
Perfect Sleep (free)
A meditation tutorial to help promote
deeper, more restful sleep
U Search “Perfect Sleep”
Sleep 101 (free)
A sleep-tracking system that records
and reports sleep patterns nearly as well
as a wrist-based sleep monitor
U Search “Sleep 101”
Android apps—available in
the Google Play
Relax Timer (free)
Tracks your daily sleep
cycles and plays soothing nature sounds
U Search “Relax Timer”
An ambience booster that sets the mood
for sleep with customized white noise
U Search “Lightning Bug”
Sleep as Android (free)
Features sleep-graph history, sleep-deficit and deep-sleep statistics, and
social network sharing
U Search “Sleep as Android”
Sound Sleep Deluxe ($2.99)
Offers low-frequency “alpha wave”
music therapy to promote deep sleep
U Search “Sound Sleep Deluxe”
Your baby is sleeping soundly—
but how about you? Here are
eight sleep-promoting apps
for your smartphone, tablet