The 5 S’s are five simple steps to calm a crying baby and have them sleep better. This technique is the work of Dr. Harvey Karp, M.D. who outlines these steps in his book “The Happiest Baby on the Block”… I can truly say my baby is the happiest baby on the block! I will outline the 5 steps below with video tutorials and tell you how it worked for me. If you like what you see, you can click on the hyperlinks HERE > DVD ($10) | Book ($12) | Kindle ($11) OR, click directly on the images below for a direct link to Amazon. (This post is not sponsored by The Happiest Baby on the Block – it’s simply the method my hubby and I used with our keiki.)
First, you swaddle baby – TIGHT. If they can wiggle their arms out of it, swaddle them again. Here is a vlog about using a swaddle blanket versus a swaddle sack. The swaddle blanket folding is demonstrated by an EXPERT – Jackson’s baby nurse at Kapiolani Hospital – because, to be honest… I never really figured out how to swaddle correctly!
We wasted tons of time with our first born “learning” how to swaddle baby with swaddle blankets. Especially in the middle of the night when baby wakes up to eat, it’s annoying and super frustrating. You’re messing with all of this fabric, in the dark, half asleep while baby is screaming… trust me. After you see how to swaddle with the blanket, I demonstrate swaddling with the swaddle sack. My FAVORITE & MOST USEFUL baby gift was the swaddle bag / sleep sack! Lifesaver!
My favorite swaddle is the Halo Sleep Sack because you can really pull the first flap nice and tight and tuck it under baby before bringing the flap with the velcro over to secure (shown in the video above). Below, is a quick video showing the different swaddles I use on a regular basis. I also demonstrate how to use a different swaddle bag (Summer Infant).
Here are the swaddles that I got for Jackson and then re-used when my second child was born. Halo Sleep Sack is not sponsoring this post – they are my favorite from experience. I like that they have both the cotton version and the fleece version for different types of weather. Once baby couldn’t be swaddled anymore, I liked the sleep sack version without the swaddle flaps (although you can always just use the flaps but cross them over the body and under the arms so the arms are free) to use as a blanket at night to keep baby warm. Fleece for cold weather and cotton for hot weather. Here are links to each of these (in different colors and sizes) on Amazon: either click directly on the swaddle below or the hyperlink.
Swaddling helps baby to feel secure and mimics what it felt like in the womb. In fact, all of the “S’s” mimic the womb which is why it works to soothe your baby.
2. SIDEWAYS / STOMACH
This one is pretty straight forward. After swaddling, you put baby on his / her side or stomach.
Once baby is on their side, you swing them back and forth in your arms. Sometimes a mechanical swing works too. Click here or on the image for a link to the product on Amazon. ($239.00)
A pacifier or finger/thumb sucking helps baby to calm down and satisfy their sucking reflex. We’ve tried a number of pacifiers and were worried that baby might reject the breast. We searched for the paci we thought resembled the sucking at the breast and our favorite was Gumdrops (they are not sponsoring this post in any way they are simply our favorite).
They have them in blue/green or pink/purple. Remember to sanitize your pacifiers and to buy new ones every few months. Click here or on the image for a link to the product on Amazon. ($4.67) The other one we liked was Avent “Super Soothie” but this one would kind of knock up against baby’s nose when he sucked whereas the Gumdrop one did not. Click here or on the image for a link to the product on Amazon. ($3.21)
Finally, you shush – say “Shhhhhh” – into baby’s ear. The key to shushing is that you need to match the volume of baby’s cry (if they are crying). I found shushing to be rather tiring so we downloaded a “white noise” app on our phones. Best thing about that? It’s portable.
I am a little freaked out about whatever cellular frequencies are emitted from our phones so when we are home (which is most of the time) I use a white noise machine (see below) that also has a projector and several different settings. You can try all different types of white noises until you find one that your baby finds soothing… rain, heartbeat, shushing, etc… Click here or on the image for a link to the product on Amazon. ($23)
The 5 S’s in Practice
You add all of this together and baby starts to calm down and relax. What we found with both of our babies is that this also put them to sleep. It can be a little exhausting to swing baby for that long but it is well worth it. Here is a video of my husband using the 5 S’s to put baby to sleep.
Not all babies need you to do all 5 S’s to calm them down and put them to sleep. My first born, needed all 5 S’s and then we would put him on his back in his bed. If he woke up when we put him down, we would start over with the 5 S’s until he was in deep REM and then put him in his crib or bassinet.
My second born, was an “easy” baby. She only needed one or two S’s to calm down and go to sleep. A lot of times, I could simply swaddle her and put her in her bed and she would fall asleep on her own.
Check out my blog on “Why My Babies Sleep Through the Night” to find out how I coupled this technique with “Babywise” and got both of my babies to sleep through the night at a very early age.
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