It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Today’s Book

The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp
Believe it or not, I only read this book this week! I’ve heard of Dr. Karp, of course – he’s the swaddling doctor – and I was curious. I rarely buy a reference book without reading it first, so I went to the library, and discovered that I was number 48 on a wait list! Popularity doesn’t always mean Good Book, however, but it did increase my curiosity.

I was able to read it in less than a day. WHAT a well-edited book!! You know, a clearly-written, well-edited book makes reading such a joy.

I was a bit skeptical when in the introductory chapter, he said “I was struck by the fact that many traditional baby-calming methods failed to work unless they were done exactly right.” “Humph!” I thought. “If that’s not a universal cop-out, I don’t know what is.” When I read his suggestions, descriptions, and instructions, however, I found myself saying, “Well, yes. Of course. Oh, yeah. Every time. That’s right.”

In short, just about every suggestion and observation Dr. Karp makes are things I’ve noticed and learned myself over the years. Don’t you just love it when what you knew all along is “discovered” by an “expert”?? Seriously, though, it is nice to have your opinions confirmed by an expert.

In very brief, Karp suggests a “Cuddle Cure” for crying. Specifically aimed at babies under 3 or 4 months old, it can be used for longer; aspects of it can be used for much, much longer.

The Cuddle Cure consists of five S’s:
1. Swaddling – tight wrapping
2. Side/Stomach
3. Shushing – loud white noise
4. Swinging – any rhythmic, jiggly motion
5. Sucking

He shows just how to do each of these: he provides lots of examples; diagrams are blessedly clear (though I suspect it probably helps that I already know how to swaddle); anecdotal support is cheerful and brief.

He has a warm manner. I like his common-sense attitude. For example, he cites those who disparage baby swings – “Babies should be in their mother’s arms, not in a machine… It shouldn’t be called a swing, it’s really a ‘neglectomatic’!” His response made me laugh: “All this is silly. Thinking you’re a better parent because you never use a swing is like thinking you’re a better cook because you never use an electric can opener.” I wholeheartedly agree. He reminds us, “throughout time, parents have had kith and kin to lend hands of support. In today’s mini-families, a swing can help replace that missing extra pair of hands.” Indeed.

I wouldn’t hesitated to give this to any expectant parent; in fact, this book, along with Weissbluth and White, will be my shower gift to a friend who’s expecting next month.

© 2006, Mary P

January 5, 2007 Posted by | books, memes and quizzes, parenting, sleep | 13 Comments