Sharing a little secret – The 5 S’s

When Jack had his meltdown a few weeks ago and I felt helpless, my friend Kate mentioned something she had read in a book which was working for her and she copied me the relevant pages to read.

happiest baby on the blockOh. My. Goldfish.

We tried it next time Jack wouldn’t settle and it works for us too – he’s normally calmed down within five minutes – so I am going to share this little bit of advice with you too!

Ok so, it is from a book by American Dr Harvey Karp called “The Happiest Baby on the Block” and the technique stems from the idea of replicating womb-like scenarios in order to calm your baby by using the 5 S’s – Swaddle, Side-Stomach Position, Shush, Swing and Suck.

The following is an excerpt from the Happiest Baby website, and briefly describes what this entails:

The 1st S: Swaddle

Swaddling recreates the snug packaging inside the womb and is the cornerstone of calming. It decreases startling and increases sleep. And, wrapped babies respond faster to the other 4 S’s and stay soothed longer because their arms can’t wriggle around. To swaddle correctly, wrap arms snug – straight at the side – but let the hips be loose and flexed. Use a large square blanket, but don’t overheat, cover your baby’s head or allow unravelling. Note: Babies shouldn’t be swaddled all day, just during fussing and sleep.

The 2nd S: Side or Stomach Position

The back is the only safe position for sleeping but it’s the worst position for calming fussiness. This “S” can be activated by holding a baby on her side, on her stomach or over your shoulder. You’ll see your baby mellow in no time.

The 3rd S: Shush

Contrary to myth, babies don’t need total silence to sleep. In the womb the sound of the blood flow is a shush louder than a vacuum cleaner! But, not all white noise is created equal. Hissy fans and ocean sounds often fail because they lack the womb’s rumbly quality. The best way to imitate these magic sounds is white noise.

The 4th S: Swing

Life in the womb is very jiggly. Imagine your baby bopping around inside you when you jaunt down the stairs! While slow rocking is fine for keeping quiet babies calm, you need to use fast, tiny motions to soothe a crying infant mid-squawk. My patients call this movement the “Jell-O head Jiggle.” To do it, always support the head/neck, keep your motions small; and move no more than 1 inch back and forth. I really advise watching the DVD [available on the website] to make sure you get it right. (For the safety of your infant, never, ever shake your baby in anger or frustration.)

The 5th S: Suck

Sucking is “the icing on the cake” of calming. Many fussy babies relax into a deep tranquility when they suck. Many babies calm easier with a pacifier.

It takes a while to perfect – I think the more we do it, the quicker Jack will calm down – but it’s definitely been a useful lesson for us and hopefully now for you too.  I only wish I had known about this at the very beginning and I am definitely adding this book to my reading list.

Find out more about this technique and other calming things from Dr Karp at www.happiestbaby.com 


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