When I was a television producer for Lifetime Television, I had a guest pediatrician on one of my shows that showed us how to soothe a crying baby instantly. His name is Dr. Harvey Karp and he wrote the book called The Happiest Baby On The Block. On the show, he took at crying baby and did what he called the “5 S’s”… and within seconds the baby was quiet and happy. His technique simulates the baby’s experience of being in the womb. The following are the 5 S’s:
• Swaddling simulates the walls of the womb. Babies are used to being surrounded in a tight space, so you will notice that newborns have what is called a startle refl ex– their arms fl y out and they experience a sensation of falling because they are not being contained within the womb. If they are swaddled with their arms tightly bound, they are happy because it gives them the feeling of being secure.
• Shushing is a sound you can make that simulates the sound that babies hear in the womb. Babies hear the loud shushing sound in the pregnant mom’s body from all the blood and bodily fluids rushing through her system. So most effective is to make loud shushing sounds or what even works is to run the vacuum cleaner or blow dryer.
• Swinging is the motion a baby feels when being rocked in the womb.
• Side lying is the position that is the most comfortable for a baby. You can swing and shush a swaddled baby positioned on its side.
• Sucking calms the baby. Breastfeeding works best, but any kind of sucking will be calming to a baby.
The thing about the 5 S’s technique is that you have to do them all and get it right or it will not work to calm a crying baby. I’ve found that swaddling is not the easiest thing to do especially at 3 in the morning when the baby is screaming and you are bleary-eyed tired. What helped me is a product called the Miracle Blanket. This blanket is made to make swaddling simple. The swaddling blanket had built in flaps that wrap around the baby’s arms and tuck behind the back. This ensures a tightly bound baby, which is essential for the swaddling technique to work. Some people wonder if the baby will be uncomfortable with its arms bound tightly to the body, but it is actually a secure and natural feeling as if back in the womb. Another great feature is that it has a flap that envelopes the feet and legs, so if you have a dirty diaper, you can change it without unswaddling the baby!