It is a philosophy that promises to calm a baby when they cry while also allowing them to sleep better, that is, the goal is to transform a baby who cries often, possibly due to colic, into a peaceful, happy baby that feels comforted and safe, without much effort. The method was developed by pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp in which he states that babies arrives in the world before they were ready and that they needed a fourth trimester to be physically prepared to live outside the womb.
Babies cry as a form of communication, a way of asking for help since they were born helpless and totally dependent. Because they are so fragile and have a constant development overload, the baby needs stability and security, and the ideal place that offers all of this is the womb. If your question is why then, are babies born if the condition outside the womb is inappropriate, the answer is available: it is due to the sophistication of our brain, which already reaches its ideal size in the third trimester. More than that, it would be impossible to pass through the birth canal.
When you are a baby, crying is natural; However, parents need to learn how to properly respond or not to each cry. Leaving the baby crying can also be dangerous, so opt for balance. As time goes by, it will become easier to identify the meaning of each cry, which will bring parents peace of mind, for example, when parents learn the quick awakening fuss when the baby can actually go back to sleep on their own in a just a few minutes.
It is essential that for the first three months the parents reproduce the same environmental conditions as the baby lived inside the womb, as they are still too immature to live in a different reality. Perhaps, because they are unaware of this need, most parents believe that babies like silence, feel safer in static and comfortable places. However, the womb conditions are quite different: they are agitated, noisy, and tight.
Dr. Karp’s method is based on the technique that teaches parents how to activate the calm reflex, called the 5S system, due to its step by step: Swaddle, Side-Stomach Position, Shush, Swing, and Suck. Understand each step below:
1- Swaddle (wrap the baby tightly)
All babies have the calming reflex that protects them in the womb, this process starts in the last month of pregnancy, creating calm for the baby so that he doesn’t move too much and continues with this function after delivery, preparing the baby for the world. This reflex is necessary for the baby’s survival in the womb that has almost no space.
The first step is to wrap your baby as if they were in a cocoon, very tight. It may seem strange, but this light and constant pressure simulate the space of the uterus. Many parents may even fear to give this a try, especially if the baby gets agitated or crying even more, for fear of hurting him. But on the contrary, wrapping it like a cocoon gives your baby an of security and comfort. Don’t give up until they are all cozy and tight (and then off to the next steps!)
2- Side-Stomach Position
After wrapped and reassured, turn your little one on their side as this will activate another reflex. Just be careful, the baby shouldn’t sleep in this position, as they would be at risk of sudden death from suffocation. Use the technique of putting them on their side while holding them, in case they don’t calm down when you swaddle them in step one. When the baby is calm and is ready to sleep, put them on their back. Why not put them on their back directly? Because, from the back, the baby feels in danger as if they were falling. Hence, these two steps are important to calm them down.
3- Shhhh, baby’s favorite sound!
A curiosity that few folks know is that the blood running through the uterus is louder than the noise a vacuum cleaner makes. Therefore, silence for babies is something they aren’t used to and it can actually be disturbing. The noise that simulates the swooshing of the uterus really calms them down and the noise closest to that is the “shhhh.” This usually ends the cry. Start by shushing lightly and gradually increase the volume to reach the same volume as your baby’s cry and, as they calm down, shushing should also decrease.
This is another step that helps to stop crying in general, rocking your baby. In the womb, the baby is always on the move while moms go about their day. Therefore, just as babies don’t like silence, they also don’t like to be still. Then, when jiggling them lightly, you simulate the movements made in the womb. So, if you want to end the crying, give this jiggling a try but careful not to shake them. Never shake your baby as this can cause serious problems! Just jiggle them quickly with short movements. You can also do this while sitting so you don’t get too tired because of the baby’s weight.
Well, once the crying stops, it is time to keep up with their calming reflex with sucking. Obviously, you must first do the nutritious sucking, that is, breastfeed or bottle-feed if your baby is hungry. Babies need to consume a lot of milk in order to cope with their rapid development! But, to calm them down between meals, it is okay to use the pacifier – or even your [clean!] finger.