04/16/2012 03:22 pm ET | Updated Jun 16, 2012

Dr. Harvey Karp's Healthy and Natural Technique to Calm Crying Babies Saves Lives

The renowned pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp calms and soothes using his 5S's method

How many parents are sleepless in America?

Did you know that Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) can lead to early death?


April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. There are over 750,000 reports of child maltreatment each year.

It’s a fact. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a serious and clearly definable form of child abuse. Other studies reveal that the #1 trigger is frustration caused by persistent crying. Experts estimate that tens of thousands of infants are shaken each year, resulting in 1400 hospitalizations and the death of one child every day, on average.

There isn’t a parent alive that hasn’t experienced some form of disturbance; losing sleep, irritability, and worse, a feeling of failure having succumbed to other measures just to stop the noise.

There are many reasons babies cry and as Dr. Karp confesses crying is a natural behavior, ” all babies cry, and believe it or not, that’s actually a good thing. How else would we know if our helpless infants were cold, hungry, lonely, or in pain?”

“During the first few months, babies fuss an average of 1.5 hours a day and 10% cry more than 3 hours a day (the medical definition of colic). That’s a whole lot of crying, and it doesn’t even include our crying!”

Sadly, parents in a state of their own despair may resort to unhealthy behaviors that could harm or seriously hurt their infant or baby. Research shows nearly 1 million new moms suffer from postpartum depression (key triggers are infant crying and exhaustion).

A new, peer reviewed study validates Dr. Karp’s method. The researchers found the 5 S's (swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, sucking) were twice as effective in stopping crying as sucrose water, the most common infant analgesia used in hospitals for painful procedures, e.g. blood drawing and circumcision. The authors note that infant crying from painful injections is often a reason parents delay or skip needed immunizations.

The researchers tested the techniques for calming infant advocated by renowned pediatrician and parenting expert Dr. Harvey Karp but applied the techniques to children 2 to 4 months old immediately after they received immunization shots. The study found that Dr. Karp’s technique was more effective than other standard methods to calm the young patients.

Dr. Karp’s recommendations bring greater peace of mind to parents knowing that all procedures including important immunizations can be relatively pain-free. The tactile support and calming techniques have been clinically proven to work.

In a 2011 Penn State report, it was found that Dr. Karp’s the 5 S's made a significant contribution to increase infant sleep and to reduce obesity at one year of age. Additional 5 S’s studies to prevent postpartum depression, treat colic, boost sleep and reduce infant (and maternal) obesity are ongoing at Penn State University, University of Texas and University of Michigan.

As 76 million baby boomers enter their golden years, some as grandparents will have the joyous responsibilities of babysitting. Sleepovers included. And the best guarantee available is to watch Dr. Harvey Karp in action. And when the lights go out here’s a sound you may remember.