I have a confession to make. I am in love with another man. Don’t worry, the hubby already knows.
Who is the object of my affection? Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician and author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” The hubby and I read this book before Peanut was born and the 5 S’s worked wonders on him. I will never forget Peanut getting fussy in the hospital, but he was clean and fed and otherwise comfortable, so the hubby “shh’d” loudly in his ear and he instantly calmed. My dad looked at the hubby with his eyes wide and said “How did you do that?”
We both reread the book before pumpkin arrived to refresh ourselves on the 5 S’s. For those of you new to Karp’s theories, it’s boiled down into the idea that the first three months of baby’s life are essentially the missing fourth trimester of their development. During this fourth trimester, the easiest way to calm a baby is to mimic the womb environment it just spent their entire existence in. Makes sense that the big, bright world might be a bit overwhelming considering the confines of a woman’s uterus.
The 5 S’s, then, are the keys to helping baby feel all the comforts of “home:”
1 – Swaddling. With both my babies, the more they fought the swaddle, the more I knew it was going to work. And sure enough, once wrapped tight into that cute little burrito, they would relax into the boundaries we had created, their arms finally stilled. In fact, the swaddle worked so well on Peanut, we kept doing it so long we nearly ran into trouble weaning him from it later.
2 – Side or Stomach Position. Peanut was a side and Pumpkin is a stomach. (Note: these are hold positions, not sleep positions. We’re big believers in back to sleep.)
3 – “Shhhhhh” – the power of white noise. A nice, loud “SH” in Peanut’s ear always worked. The “shh” and sound machine have definitely been Pumpkin’s friends, too. It’s worked so well that Peanut will actually try the “shh” on Pumpkin, which is totally adorable.
4 – Swinging. This “S” is all about the motion. Peanut L-O-V-E-D the swing. Some days it was the only way I could get him to nap during the day at all. Pumpkin’s more of a jiggler, but a jiggle and a sway? Oh yeah. That’s this kid’s sweet spot.
5 – Sucking. Peanut was never into the pacifier. Pumpkin’s a total believer. It works almost too well and I fear the hubby and I will grow dependant on it. We’re going to try weaning him from it around three months since he’s already finding his hand every once and awhile and seems to prefer it to the paci when he does.
But I have a secret. I have found the sixth S.
One night, when peanut was particularly fussy, I was singing whatever I could think of as I rocked, swayed and shh’d my swaddled baby. Nothing was working. Finally, I got to the itsy-bitsy spider in my repertoire and quiet. I wasn’t sure if it was the song or if I’d simply outlasted peanut. I tried it again and again in various situations and it ALWAYS worked. No clue why, but, hey, go with what works.
With Pumpkin, there was a day when the fussies were just not being appeased by the other standbys so I dusted off the old itsy-bitsy and sure enough, it worked like a charm. Since then, it’s worked repeatedly on those days when I can’t figure out what’s wrong and he seems to need just a little extra TLC.
So moms and dads and Dr. Karp, I offer you the Sixth S: “Spider, Itsy-Bitsy.”