He also argues that some babies are natural self-calmers, meaning they just aren't fussy babies because they have some capability to monitor their own situations and keep themselves from getting over stimulated or bored. These babies are the ones you hear about that adjust well to being outside the womb, that may become fussy but hardly ever break into the red-faced wail, they can be put down to sleep without problems, and stay that way for longer blocks of time. (Dear Zeus, please send me one of these.) When your baby isn't one of these self-calmers, when your baby needs more time to adjust to being outside your belly, this is when you need to mimic the environment of the womb. You do this by using the 5 S's. As outlined many, many, many, many, many times throughout the book, they are as follows:
- Side or Stomach
Swaddling calms the baby by stopping the flailing arms and legs and focusing the baby's attention. The secret to a successful swaddle is that it is tight and does not allow the baby the opportunity to break free from the bundle. When to stop using the swaddle depends on the baby but Dr. Karp's research shows that most babies are ready to be weaned off swaddling by three to four months of age.
Side or stomach is about positioning the baby so it turns off the Moro (falling) reflex, which the baby experiences when he/she is lying on her back, and turning on the calming reflex, which imitates the baby's position in the uterus. It should be noted, however, that while the side and stomach positions are incredibly soothing, once the baby is calm and put to bed, he/she should only sleep on his/her back.
Shhhhing is a great tool for continuing to trigger the calming reflex. Shhhhing imitates the whooshing sound your baby heard while snugly packed in your womb. The secret for this tool is that it must be loud enough to pierce through your baby's crying. Translation, the volume of the shhhhing must match the volume of the crying in intensity. It might sound too loud and not comforting at all to us but the baby is used to the loud sounds he/she experienced when camping out in his/her mother's belly. The baby must be confused by the relative quiet into which he/she is born. The good thing is we've got plenty of other noisemakers we can utilize around the house and beyond to help save our voices - vacuum, hair dryer, automobile, static from a radio, etc.
Swinging is another tactic to try to switch on that calming reflex that is built in to your baby. This technique should not be confused with shaken baby syndrome, which can result from abusive shaking of a small baby. This technique uses small, vigorous jiggly movements to calm your baby, again, by mimicking the type of movement the baby experienced in the belly.
And finally, sucking. Now that you've got the baby's attention and his/her calming reflex has been activated, you can give him/her a nice hearty meal. Or, if they aren't hungry but are just looking for attention - remember, they are used to getting it 24/7 because they were so well taken care of in the womb - you can use a pacifier to help the baby drift into a peaceful rest. Dr. Karp recommends waiting a few weeks before introducing the pacifier to prevent nipple confusion if you are breastfeeding.
I think the doc has some good ideas and upon reflection there is merit in his argument, particularly when you consider that some peoples in the world don't have colicky babies because they carry their newborns constantly, offering the breast up to 100 times per day to meet and satisfy the baby's every need. I recommend this book to anyone who is having or who just had a baby. If you can't tromp your way through the entire thing as I did, Noodle's mom Sara said it was great to consult on the fly and there is a handy index to help guide you to the information you need.