The Happiest Baby on the Block is Dr. Harvey Karp’s unique approach to infant care. His explanation of newborns is that their transition from the womb–a place of immense comfort, warmth, and safety–to the outside world should be considered an extension of their incubation period: a “fourth trimester.” Babies have adapted to the sounds, motion, and security that they’re offered while in utero. Once they’re born, they’re looking for things to comfort them and remind them of that space.

In an interview with Dr. Karp, he discusses the 5 S’s: swaddling, sucking, shushing, side-stomach position, and swing. Dr. Karp says that a parent’s natural instincts to shush and swing imitate life in utero, calming babies. Sucking is a reflexive action for babies, as well, but also an inherited trait — so some babies may be pacified with a pacifier and others may not.

Every individual baby will respond differently to the 5 S’s, but swaddling is the focal point for all of them. Once a newborn is safely swaddled, their startle reflex is inhibited and their sense of security increased. Many babies will sleep longer and more deeply while swaddled.Swaddling often feels like a science but the right blanket (and the right swaddler!) can make a huge difference. Learn more about the science of swaddling, the 5 S’s, and the fourth trimester!

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