As a Newborn Care Specialist if you haven’t already read The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvery Karp, M.D. then you better get reading! Dr. Karp shares his insights on many things including calming reflexes, infant sleep and SIDS risks to name a few. For now, we are going to dive into the calming reflexes, or otherwise known as the 5 S’s. If there was ever a time you couldn’t figure out how to calm a newborn who you knew was well fed, changed and healthy then these are the technique’s you’ll want to learn.
Swaddle – Swaddling is the baseline for calming a newborn. It helps them feel snug like when they were in the womb.
A lot of parents say that their newborn never liked being swaddled, but most of the time it is because the newborn doesn’t like the process of being swaddled and still fusses. For some newborns a swaddle is all they need, but for most others you will need to find out what other of the 5 S’s they will need to help them find their calming reflex.
Side or Stomach Position – This is where you hold a newborn on their side, stomach or over your shoulder. You’ll learn which one the newborn likes most with practice. Remember, infants should always be put down to sleep on their backs.
Shush – In other words, white noise. This can be magical. Newborns do not like it really quiet. It was loud in the womb. While holding them you can lean down to their ear and shush loudly into it and you will notice them calm. You can also use a white noise app or a white noise machine. The best kind is a consistent static type sound for the best results. White noise can be as loud as a vacuum and is perfectly safe for their little ears.
Swing – In the womb newborns get jiggled around a lot. By supporting the infant’s head and neck you can use fast, tiny motions (no more than 1 inch back and forth) to soothe them. We highly suggest watching a video on how it’s done before attempting. Harvey Karp has a DVD you can watch or you can find a brief video here.
Suck – Sucking can be the icing on the cake! Add in breastfeeding or a pacifier and it can calm the newborn into a deep sleep!
Finding which combination of the 5 S’s that work for the infant in your care and sharing that with your clients can be the key to not only a calm newborn, but your clients feeling empowered!