How to calm babies: The 5S method and its risks
The arrival of a baby into the family is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times in a couple's life. But with this joy also comes challenges, especially when it comes to the new family member's sleep. A newborn's sleep can prove to be a real test for parents as they try to find the best methods to soothe and support their child. A method that has received a lot of attention in recent years is the “5 S Method” by Dr. Harvey Karp. In this article, we will take a closer look at this method and explain why it is controversial .
Table of contents:
1. Dr. Harvey Karp: Who is that?
Before we delve into the details of the 5 S method, I would first like to tell Dr. Introducing Harvey Karp. Dr. Karp is a well-known pediatrician, author and pediatrics professor at the University of Southern California. He has decades of experience caring for newborns and children and is the author of the bestseller “The Happiest Baby in the World,” in which he first introduced his 5 S method. This method is designed to help parents understand and respond to their baby's sleep and calming needs.
2. The 5S method: How does it work?
The 5S method describes five ways to activate a baby's calming reflex. The idea behind this method is to mimic the environment and sensations in the womb to give the baby a sense of security and help them fall asleep.
Here are the 5S in detail:
- Swaddle - The practice of wrapping the baby with a cloth to contain his arms and legs. This is intended to give the baby a feeling of security and reduce fidgeting.
- Side/prone position - The baby should be placed on the side or stomach. However, this should only be done under supervision as stomach sleeping has been linked to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Shhhh Sound - A constant “Shh” sound is made to simulate the sound in the womb and calm the baby. Loud white noise can also be helpful here.
- Rocking - Gently rocks baby back and forth to soothe and lull baby to sleep . This also reminds a newborn of the rhythm of movement it experienced during pregnancy.
- Sucking - the mother's breast is primarily recommended here. Of course, a pacifier or a clean finger can also be used to satisfy the need to suck.
3. Why the 5S method is controversial
Although the 5S method is found helpful by many parents and by Dr. Although Karp is promoted as the most effective way to calm babies, there is also some controversy and concern surrounding this technique. It is important to note that some of the techniques do not adhere to current guidelines and recommendations. Here are some key points from the WHO recommendations:
- SIDS risk - The recommendation to place the baby on their side or stomach contradicts current guidelines on safe sleep environments for babies. Sleeping in a side or stomach position increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends sleeping on your back as the safest position for babies.
- Swaddling - The WHO advises against wrapping newborns tightly in blankets or cloths , as this can increase the freedom of movement of the child's leg and the risk of hip dysplasia (= misalignment of the hip joints).
4. My recommendation as a baby sleep consultant
The 5S method by Dr. Harvey Karp has undoubtedly helped many parents calm their babies and get them to sleep better. It should not be ignored that each baby should be viewed individually. Not every baby can be calmed by swaddling or white noise etc. Feel free to try out the techniques and see whether they positively support your baby's sleep or not. However, do not lose sight of the WHO recommendations.
As an alternative to swaddling, you can, for example, place your child in a safe baby nest, wrap only the arms or use the Wombambino sleeping bag. This gives your baby the safe feeling from the womb just as well.
As an alternative to sleeping on your stomach, you can let your baby fall asleep on your chest. Wearing it can also provide great relief. When carrying, you can use several techniques of the 5-S method at the same time, which can make sleep very restful for your baby.
Guest post by Dalia from Babyschlaf-Verstehen: