Ever noticed that many newborn animals will begin walking around within minutes of their birth? Why then, didn’t I learn to even sit up straight for months after entering this work? The answer lies in our skeletal systems. Humans have a curved pelvis as opposed to one that is straight, like almost all other mammals. Our babies, therefore, have to be born sooner, smaller, and more fragile in order to squeeze by the bottom of mom’s bones! Of course, most babies are born happy and healthy, but more can be done to help your child in the earliest days of their life!
Happiest Baby on the Block (HBotB) was created by Harvey Karp, a pediatrician, on the basic idea that babies can be calmer and happier when put into an environment that simulates the mother’s womb. Since our kids come out a few months early, they are more comfortable under womb-like conditions. A more comfortable baby means a happier baby and (perhaps more importantly) a happier mom!
We sat down with Anna Rodney, owner and founder of Chicago Family Doulas, to talk about her experience as a certified HBotB instructor. In summary, Anna boils HBotB down to the five S’s:
- Swaddle: Babies love to be swaddled because it keeps them warm and cozy, just like they are in the womb! Need help with swaddling? Here is a great resource.
- Side/Stomach Position: Holding your newborn with their side or stomach facing down can help them to relax and be much less fussy! Babies need to sleep on their backs, but being held in other ways keeps them calm and happy.
- Shush: In the womb, your child hears the sound of your blood flowing around them loud and clear. White noise can help your child to feel at home and calm them down in no time.
- Swing: While in the womb, your child moves around a lot! As you walk, stand up, bend over, or move around in any other way, your fetus swings around a little bit! Small but fast (think back and forth about an inch) motion simulates this feeling and keeps your baby happy.
- Suck: Babies love to suck on things! We recommend keeping a pacifier on hand, as this often can be the difference between loud crying and relaxation!
Of course, all babies are different and no set of rules will calm every single baby. Think of HBotB as an extra (but often powerful) set of tools that are great for responding to the needs of your baby! Find a local HBotB class and buy a copy of Dr. Karp’s book to learn more.
Anna Rodney is the owner and operator of Chicago Family Doulas: a resource where new and expecting moms can receive support in the form of labor/postpartum doulas, mommy and me Pilates classes, placenta encapsulation, and more.