When it comes to pregnancy, everyone is an expert. All you need to qualify is to have successfully survived the first year of a baby’s life. (Some might say first few months.) The flurry of information from family, friends and co-workers can make a mom-to-be downright dizzy.
And then there are the books: I spent my first pregnancy reading what amounted to a small library collection of parenting guides. Fortunately, the second time around, I’m just skimming the ones that actually worked.
So let me save you some time. If you’re expecting your first baby or you know someone who is, make sure they pick up "The Happiest Baby on the Block,” by Harvey Karp, M.D. It’s a quick, entertaining read. But here is the big takeaway: Swaddle, Side, Shushing, Swinging, Sucking. You execute those 5 “S’s” in combination, and your little crying machine will learn the joys of serenity.
Swaddle: When my son was born, I became a master swaddler. For the first 3-4 months of his life, I wrapped him tighter than a burrito when it came time for rest. He didn’t like it at first. But persistence pays off. So does the right technique. What worked best for me was using a large, square blanket made of stretchy, waffle-like cloth. Dr. Karp walks you step-by-step in the book on how to fold and wrap.
Side/stomach: When it comes to holding your baby, the side or stomach position can be most comforting to the baby. Many unsuspecting parents hold their baby on its back.
Shhh: I remember searching Sears for the “loudest” air cleaner in stock. The salesperson helping me thought I was kidding. Improved technology over the years has resulted in ever-quieter machines. I wanted a white noise machine that also served a greater purpose, though any kind of white noise could work (think loud static on the radio).
Swinging: Be it in your arms or in a baby swing, make sure your swinging is “vigorous,” according to Dr. Karp.
Sucking: Some parents are adamant against using pacifiers. My son found it hugely comforting. I quickly weaned him off it during waking hours and made it purely a sleeping aide. During the first three months, I actually removed it from his mouth as I lay him in his bassinet or crib. (Didn’t want him dropping it until he knew how to put it back in his mouth.)
Tell us: So what book or technique worked best for you?