Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Review:

Happiest Baby on the Block

Author: Dr. Harvey Karp
ISBN: 0553381466
Publisher: Bantam
Format: Paperback
Published: May 2003
No. of pages: 288 pages
Available for loan from: National Library Board
Price: S$21.43 (
Suitable for: Expectant parents,
parents of 0 – 3 months old babies
Verdict: Highly recommended (4 / 5)

This is my favourite book on newborns! A thought-provoking read, Dr. Karp blends modern science and ancient wisdom to prove that newborns are really not ready for the world when they are born. Written in a friendly, fun and engaging manner, I liked the sensible way used to explain the rationales behind the practical solutions that he provides.

Essentially, this book explains why newborns cry (and cry so much) and most importantly, how to soothe them with the simple 5’S approach that trigger the calming reflex (swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking). For centuries, parents have tried these methods only to fail because, as with a knee-jerk reflex, the calming reflex only works when it is triggered in exactly the right way. Dr. Karp explains away the age-old myths behind colic, gas and other reasons that have been given for non-stop crying and literally redefines our understanding of the needs of newborns. When first published, this book stunned the medical world (and made parents cheer!) by solving the 3000-year-old mystery of colic with the discovery of the calming reflex – the incredible “off-switch” for infant crying and on switch for baby sleep that can soothe most fussy babies in minutes and add 1-3 hours to a baby’s sleep.

Although I read this book when baby J was 4.5 months old, some of the tricks still worked and above all, helped me understand why he had non-stop crying spells every afternoon (the doctor said it wasn’t colic) and why he would only nap when carried in a sling during those early days. It certainly helped soothe my ‘new mother’ anxieties that I must have somehow gotten something wrong. On the downside, I wished Dr. Karp provided more information about weaning the baby off the 5’S as we are still very much reliant on one of them (sucking).

An accompanying DVD is also available. While I have only seen the excepts on the website (it’s just amazing to watch the screaming infants stop crying almost instantly!), I believe that watching the DVD will be useful in helping one to better understand and visualize the tactics. Certainly, if you are a bleary-eyed, exhausted new parent, watching the DVD will be a much faster solution to yours (and your baby’s) sleep deprivation issues.

Having spoken to many other mothers, it seems that these endless crying spells are a definite with all newborns; so in this regard, this book and DVD is a must-read / must-watch for all expectant and new parents.

About the Author(s)
Dr. Harvey Karp is a nationally renowned pediatrician, child development specialist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine. He completed medical school training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NYC, pediatric residency at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles and fellowships in ambulatory pediatrics and child development at UCLA. In pediatric practice, for almost 30 years, Dr. Karp has taught thousands of parents, from working moms to superstars like Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer and Pierce Brosnan his secrets for soothing colic, boosting infant sleep, reducing tantrums, promoting patience and …making parents and children happy.