Monday, September 24, 2012
dr. karp versus mom
i just finished reading the happiest baby on the block and i have to say, it really resonated with me. dr. karp's ideas about calming a fussy baby make a shit-ton of sense, if you ask me. his theory, after years of being a pediatrician and doing research on colicky infants, is that babies are simply born too early. what they really need is another 3 months in the womb, but since women cannot be physically split in half and sewn back together in order to birth a 15-pound child, we evict them at 40 weeks. when they are still woefully underdeveloped, emotionally.
dr. karp says that in order to calm a crying infant, you need to recreate the womb for him. this is where baby felt safest, and in order to calm down, he needs to feel that sense of security again. dr. karp has come up with the 5 s's of quieting a screaming baby - swaddle, stomach/side position, shush, swing, and suck. by doing these 5 things for baby, it helps to recreate that feeling of being securely wrapped in your uterus, and suddenly he's able to calm down again and - hopefully - fall asleep. but i'm not here to talk about the 5 s's. maybe another post.
i'm here to talk about dr. karp's insistence that constantly holding/carrying/picking up your infant when he cries will not spoil him. i don't know about you, but i was always told that you shouldn't pick a child up every time he cries because he'll get spoiled and start to expect it. it's what my mom always said. she also always said, "if you don't raise them, they'll raise you." her theory was that you have to let them figure out how to fend for and entertain themselves. it was the way my parents (i'm assuming) raised me, and i turned out ok, so i always figured it's gotta be right, right? why not? it makes sense. the sooner baby learns to entertain himself, the better. as my friends started having babies, i began parroting that advice to them (which, as i now understand, must have been so obnoxious). after reading dr. karp, i'm not so sure anymore.
dr. karp says that in a baby's first 3-4 months, all he understands is that he's uncomfortable/cold/hungry/scared/whatever, and suddenly there's this person, making it better. he isn't capable of putting two and two together to figure out that a) he's actually crying when he's feeling any of the above and b) that his crying brings us to him. all he knows is that he has a need and it's being met. and that makes him feel safe. that makes a lot of sense to me. by the time baby is 4-5 months old, he is now capable of self-soothing, and will not need you to come and rescue him from himself. and this is when you can let him sit and cry in his crib for a few minutes. he'll figure out how to get his fingers in his mouth and calm himself down.
of course, matt hasn't read the book yet, but in describing it to him, he thinks it sounds like a good idea. i think i'm going to get the happiest baby on the block dvd so that we can both get a good visual on what the 5 s's look like. it's a novel approach in my family, but one that i think i'd like to take. i want to make sure our baby feels safe and secure. but i don't want to spoil him. after reading dr. karp's theories, i feel this can be achieved.
did you read happiest baby on the block? have you tested any of his theories on your infant?