Synopsis: Dr. Karp makes an argument that the first three months of life for a baby are actually more like the 'fourth trimester,' a time when the baby is still developing and not yet ready to interact with a world outside of the womb. He details the five 'S's: swaddling, side position, swinging, shushing, and sucking, and how to implement each to calm a fussy or crying baby. He finishes with what he calls the 'cuddle cure' - a sure-fire approach that combines the five S's, allowing your baby to feel safe, secure, and able to sleep comfortably.
I had mixed feelings while reading this book. Obviously, I have no baby to practice the techniques on, so I cannot comment yet on its effectiveness. I attempted to swaddle Emma with one of our new Halo sacks, and was rewarded wtih some flying fur and a scratch on my arm. I tried some of the other 'S's on my husband, as he is usually cranky and overtired by the time he gets home from work. The only 'S' that worked was the 'Shush!' He did quiet down, but I don't think it soothed him. In fact, I think it hurt his feelings.
If Dr. Karp's techniques are effective, this man deserves a Nobel Prize. He makes some big claims in the book but is quick to caution new parents to always rule out major medical problems when the baby is fussy. He also offers fascinating anthropological evidence that highlight how other cultures calm and soothe newborns in their tribes. I remember a class during graduate school when the professor commented that in some parts of the world, the baby is never set down for the first few months of life. They remain close the mother or caregiver, with skin to skin contact, and never too far from comfort of a beating heart. This comment has stuck with me for over eight years, and it was nice to see come confirmed evidence from another source.
I also really dig the idea of the 'fourth trimester.' I've always been slightly terrified of newborns. Their lack of interaction with the rest of the world (other than to cry) makes me feel as though I'm flying blind. Irrationally as it may be, it would be nice for the child to look up and give some feedback, like, "Hey, you're doing this right," or "Nope, still not happy." Dr. Karp's idea gives me a sense of comfort to lower my expectations for those first 90 days, and learn to chill out.
I think my mixed emotions came from the many examples of parents and children used in the book, and the description of each babies' unique tempermant. I'm almost embarassed to admit this, but I haven't thought much of what our baby will be like once he actually arrives. Since week 17, I've been solely focused on keeping this baby inside of me without giving much thought to what happens after week 37-40.
Just the thought of this - our little guy, in the world - brought me practically to tears. Will he be fussy like his mom? Will he be quiet and analytical like his dad? Will he be opinionated like his cat sister? (we're not ruling anything out). It's just such a weird moment to think, oh, yeah, this is a person. I'm gestating a person. It's not about ultrasounds and fibroids and bed rest...it's about life and the creation of a new person. Holy cow, I'm actually going to be a mom.
Sorry to get all sappy. I blame it on the hormones. This book certainly did get me thinking of life after birth, and that is a very good thing. I guess I'm probably like any new mom - anxious, excited, overwhelmed.
I just want things to go well.
P.S. Comments are appreciated! I'm always interested to hear other's opinions and experiences on this subject.