American paediatrician Harvey Karp presented a revolutionary 5-step method to soothe crying babies in one minute. To this day, his method is a relief for desperate parents.
As a paediatrician, Karp met with lots of sleep-deprived parents who were desperate because they couldn’t calm down their crying baby. ‘It’ll pass’ isn’t a satisfactory answer, he noticed. It only makes parents more desperate. He decided to start looking for an easy way to soothe a crying baby: by imitating the environment and sounds of the uterus as closely as possible.
Step 1: swaddle your baby
Crying babies are often very upset. They throw their arms and legs in every possible direction. To calm them, you can swaddle them using a swaddling blanket so that the baby gets that safe feeling of being inside the uterus.
Step 2: put your baby on its side
Put your crying baby on his side, with the belly as far down as possible, against your stomach. This is a soothing position. Important: when putting your baby back in bed, you have to put him on his back.
Step 3: whisper ‘sssshhh’
Not because you want to forcefully tell your baby to be quiet, but because the ssshhh-sound mimics the sound in the uterus. That’s also the reason why crying babies calm down when they hear a vacuum cleaner. Never say ‘ssshhh’ directly next to the ear, but keep a distance of about 15 cm. Depending on the intensity of the crying, you can be more quiet or loud. You’ll feel how the crying slowly stops and how your baby relaxes in your arms.
Step 4: rock back and forth
After having moved along with mum for 9 months in the uterus, it’s quite a change to ‘get out of the water’ all of a sudden. This may confuse babies, which can lead to lots of crying. Sway with the head in your hands and the tummy against you back and forth, that’ll have a calming effect.
Step 5: give your baby a pacifier
Babies feel an incredible urge to suck the first three months of their lives, so a pacifier might help.
The secret of carrying your baby
Karp says his method isn’t any hocus-pocus. He looked at other cultures where crybabies simply aren’t a thing because they’re carried all the time. His 5-step plan finds its inspiration there. The secret, according to Karp, is the combination of the 5 steps. By applying all five of them, your baby should stop crying.
Does it truly calm down a crybaby?
Karp seems like a very commercial figure: he has a series of books and DVDs he keeps recommending, which is why his technique to soothe crying babies is looked at with quite a bit of scepticism. But paediatricians, parents, and YouTube videos do prove it works, as you can see below!