Happiest Baby on the Block- Dr. Harvey Karp


Happiest Baby on the Block Book- YourBabyBooty.comDo you want more sleep? Read this book. Do you want a less fussy bambino? Read this book. We like Dr. Karp’s approach, because it gets results. While it may not work for every single baby, gosh we’ve talked with so many who it has worked for. And his methods just make a whole lot of sense.

We also really like the reason he wrote the book. He was a ‘well-trained’ pediatrician, but while in residency at a super busy Children’s Hospital in LA, was bothered by how many parents he (with his traditional medical training) could not help. The major life changing moment happened after he became a member of the UCLA child abuse team.

He dealt with many parents who physically hurt their kids because they could not handle a baby that screamed constantly. He needed to do something. So he took action.

After researching the problem, he was surprised to learn 2 primary things that became the basis for his work at Happiest Baby on the Block:
1- How fast newborn’s brains develop & how complex babies brains are
2- How other cultures DO NOT have the same problem

He concluded much of what we understand & teach about ‘what newborns need’ was backwards. So he took action. Don’t you love people who make things happen!

The first part of the book talks about why babies cry & The second part talks about how to calm crying babies.


-Part of the challenge is that we as parents (especially first time parents) just assume our kid will be a ‘good kid’.

-estimated 1 in 5 babies cry big time, even when they have their basic needs met (meaning their not hungry, wet, gassy, lonely or cold)

-many people & doctors say ‘just endure it, baby will grow out of it’, when there are ‘things’ we can do to help baby adapt to their new world.

-baby’s entire life (up until birth) was spent insulated by amniotic fluid inside the uterus.

-so that means everything the baby heard was heard as a gentle ‘swoosh’ sound. And the baby felt most things as some form of rhythmic motion. Can’t you imagine this? Everything’s tight quarters, muffled & sounds somewhat the same as ‘swooshes’, not a ton of light, food is automatically fed, waste is automatically excreted &everything is just sorta done for baby to help them grow ….then all the sudden… BAM…birth

-baby feels exposed in EVERY possible way.

-Dr. Karp talks about baby needing a 4th Trimester (not literally), but that would be baby’s time to adjust in all these ways after most of their physical development is complete.

-the 4th trimester concept is to help baby transition/adjust to all that newness in their new world by helping them transition/adjust within the ‘framework’ of that they’ve been comfortable in the previous nine months. It just makes sense. Imagine anything new you’ve ever done (especially involving something physical) & the exact same principle applies.

-Example- If I’m learning a new job, it helps me to learn the new job, faster, easier & with less stress by relating that new job to exactly something I already know. If you’ve just moved to a Spain (and just got pregnant), it’d help to meet a few American women who can give you what you need when you need it to help your transition go smoother. So we’re essentially using baby’s old experience in the womb to teach them about their new experience faster & easier. We’re helping them help themselves.

-other cultures have been using these techniques for 1000’s of years.

-so we help baby transition by using the 5 S’s.

-The 5 S’s must be done in order because they have a compounding effect. Yeah, one of them might help calm a crying baby, but each one done in succession builds on the other one & helps baby calm & adjust much faster & easier.

The Top 5 ways to mimic their time in the uterus: 5 S’s
1-Swaddling- tight wrapping of baby in cloth- arms don’t flail- help’s baby relax because their muscles involuntary move around (they don’t have control over their arms & legs initially),which prevents them from over stimulating themselves

2-Side/Stomach- this positioning mimics baby in utero- don’t feel like their totally falling out of control

3-Shushing-‘Shhhhh’- helps relax baby because it sounds like the womb they spent 9 months in & forces them to pay attention to you helping calm them

4-Swinging- rhythmic motions of jiggling, light bouncing help baby again pay attention and helps them relax because that is what they are used to feeling.

5-Sucking- releases chemical in brain to relax- on nipple, finger or paci initiates calming reflex, which stays active as long as they suck helping them to feel calm, protected.

-All of these together mimic life in the womb and help them to feel in a warm & comfortable place.

-But can’t I spoil them? No…b/c for 24 hours a day they had that comfortable environment…now all the sudden they are 24 hours a day outside of it. So the more you help them recreate it, the faster they’ll inevitably transition to new life outside the womb.

-Babies develop a vocabulary within crying- you’ll learn to tell which kind of cry means what (and which are fake !)
Colic- excessive crying for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, 3 weeks a month (most often starts at 2 weeks, peeks at 6 weeks, over usually by 3 months)

-Kolikos- greek word meaning large intestine- chronic crying was originally believed to be from intestinal problems

Dr. Karp talks about & Defines why most Theories about Colic are wrong (below are just a few):

-Colic isn’t caused by Gas reflux or what baby eats…b/c baby has had gas, etc. from the beginning.

-Colic isn’t caused by anxiety of parents- because it’s as likely to occur in 5th baby as first

-Colic isn’t caused by temperament- babies have temperament from birth and cultures around world don’t get Colic

-1972 Sylvia Bell study found- babies that were tended to fastest has the most patience at 1 year old (babies weren’t spoiled by parents tending to their needs)

-Before month 4 you have a job that is 100 times more important than spoiling your child, that is nurturing your baby’s confidence in you and the world.

Why Swaddling works so well:

-skin is body’s largest organ- touching is most calming of senses

- keeps baby from getting self more worked up- Moro reflex

-Prepares baby to relax- helps baby tune out distractions- helping them feel warm, safe like they are used to 

-Shushing- All cultures use some form of sshhhh

-follow baby’s lead and make sound loud enough to match baby’s cry…lead baby to calm

-Sucking Thumbs releases endorphins and relaxes baby from pain (shots, circumcision)

-baby grows 250k brain cells per minute, Like a little Yoga jedi master in da womb

-“however before 4 months, you have a job that is 100 times more important than preventing spoiling; your job is nurturing your babies confidence in you & the world”

-building child’s faith, confidence & trust that we will always be there for them at their youngest and most vulnerable time is big time important. Certainly it has some effect on how we relate to one another for the rest of their lives (if not a major effect)

-Expectations- expect it to be challenging with baby at first.

-Be flexible & try new things to find what works.

-Take care of spouse, cause we all need to ‘have our tank’ filled after challenging times during big life changing event.

-Accept all the help you can get


These are just a FEW notes from the book. Highly suggest you pick up this book and use it. Very easy to read and will also help you and your spouse to get on the same page on HOW you’ll deal with giving your baby what they need/want. Being on the same page is huge, cause consistency is huge (and needed) for baby, but also helps out your relationship in BIG ways.

You don’t want to feel like you’re fighting about how to deal with a challenging situation, you want to have it ironed out before it happens. Trust me, we had a few squabbles and wish we’d have paid more attention to being on the same page. It would have made so many situations easier, faster to deal with & more effective. Did I say trust me?

This is a phenomenal book! It teaches you practical things you can do, that work, that you are GUARANTEED to deal with. And you’ll be dealing with them when late at night, when you’re tired, etc.

You can get the book here

(To satisfy our friends at the FTC- this is an affiliate link. That means if you decide to buy this book, amazon might send us so much money for helping you out, we could probably buy a jet & a matching yacht. :) )

We Hope these Book Notes are just a starting point for some big time Discussion. We can learn so much from each other {especially when we have differing thoughts}…

What did you learn from this book? What specifically helped you the most? How come? Let’s chat about it. Please share in the comments below.