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The Happiest Baby on the Block

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  11,541 ratings  ·  1,910 reviews
In perhaps the most important parenting book of the decade, Dr. Harvey Karp reveals an extraordinary treasure sought by parents for centuries --an automatic "off-switch" for their baby's crying.
No wonder pediatricians across the country are praising him and thousands of Los Angeles parents, from working moms to superstars like Madonna and Pierce Brosnan, have turned to hi
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 28th 2002 by Bantam
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Let me preface my review by acknowledging that the tips and tricks described in this book will probably be of great use in calming my baby when I have a newborn. And, if this book were, say, a seven-page article in a magazine, I would rip it out, keep it for reference, and recommend it to friends.

The problem is that this is not a seven-page article. It is a 260-page book. 260 pages of fluff, filler, and drawings. 260 pages to essentially inform the reader that calming a newborn takes "the 5 S's
May 09, 2008 Ryan rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: frightened new parents
Recommended to Ryan by: Someone who thought they were being helpful
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
There's quite a bit of filler in this, I think it could have been about half the length or less, and the publisher was looking for an excuse to charge the full 12.95 or whatever a book costs nowadays. That said, THIS BOOK IS MAGICAL. As a new parent, I don't know what I would do without this book.

Swaddle, Side, Sway, Shhh, Suck. There be magic in them words, and while I'm up at 1am writing this review, my baby is quiet, if not asleep enough to lay down on her own. I'd be ripping my hair out ins
All right, there really are nuggets of good advice hidden in mounds of dirt in this book. For example, I skimmed the entire first half of the book. And there are just so many darned testimonials from his patients - perhaps a fifth of the book is testimonials. Why? To make this actually book-length, I suppose. Oh, and for your mental well-being you should probably skip the section listing all the rare medical conditions that can lead to colic. So, anyway, there are just nuggets...

But what nuggets
Lisa R.
Jun 10, 2008 Lisa R. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pregnant Women and their partners
Recommended to Lisa by:
This book is an absolute parenting essential. In the future, I will purchase this book, along with a swaddler, for every friend/relative who has a new baby. It's the closest thing to magic I have encountered during my brief time as a parent!

We used the techniques in this book almost every day for the first 4 months of our child's life. We still swaddle our son now and he's almost six months old.

I wold strongly recommend reading it before you give birth - we actually used the entire technique ou
I saw this doctor on Oprah YEARS ago... I remember that the audience was full of QUIET, contented babies and I wondered if they were all sedated.

The premise is that human babies are born 3 months BEFORE they are really developed because of the size of their heads. Therefore, the fist 100 days of their life is virtually a "fourth trimester" in which the baby needs constant vigilance and caring.

He offers "cuddle cure"... 5 steps done in sequence to calm a baby and simulate life in the womb: Swaddl
The basic points are good - and they work. But, the book is amazingly boring.
This book should be subtitled, "How to Ruin Your Milk Supply." Following the tactics in this book will most likely sabotage breastfeeding relationships and make parents wonder why they don't know what their babies need...after learning to ignore all their cues and teaching the babies to shut down, not calm down, from being shaken and scared by loud noises. Here's a great review of Dr. Karp's methods:

For better information on normal infant sleep, check out:
Hopefully the techniques are more effective than the style

There's a lot of unnecessary fluff trying to convince you of the 'calming reflex' and the 'fourth trimester' idea. Skip the first 75 pages.
VERY repetitive (how many times must he remind us that "he had this type of stimulation 24 hours a day IN the womb, what you're doing now is a big decrease"?--apparently, this is written in the context of a society that is afraid of spoiling 3 month-olds by soothing them, which was news to me.
Sep 01, 2007 Lara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: soon-to-be parents, parents of young babies
I have to read this book to be certified in the curriculum for my job with Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, and normally I wouldn't put this type of thing on a personal book list, but it's so great! Obviously I don't have children, but some day in the future when I do, I definitely want to use these techniques! It talks of the "5 S's to Stop a Crying Baby"- swaddle, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking! And I have the DVDs for the whole curriculum, which is amazing! The guy is a g ...more
Every parent should be sent home from the hospital with the dvd by the same title. It literally changed our lives. It is regrettable that we didn't learn how to soothe the baby in this way until he was about 12 weeks or so. Oh the tears and struggle (us and him lol) we could have saved by knowing the 5 S's earlier. It literally is a miracle to watch it happen. It feels unbelievable to have the power to instantly calm your hysterical baby.

I managed to find time to read the book, and it does have
Adam Floridia
This book sucked. Some of the ideas in it might prove very useful. But the book sucked. Rather than read it, I suggest one just skip to page 126-127 and copy the 5 S techniques as they are briefly described. Karp definitely knew that this idea couldn't justify a book length volume, but that didn't stop him from writing one. I'd say you'll read the same information (sometimes verbatim) every 20 pages or so. Before any information, you'll have about 5 pages of "you are about to learn..." or "in Ch ...more
Brent Weeks
This is one of those books that is gold... but very brief gold. Here is the failure of the modern book industry. The book should be about 40 pages, and it would be worth paying $10 or even $14. But no one thinks that brief advice could possibly be worth that much, so it's got filler. Whatever. Read the intro and a couple chapters. It'll save your life if you're a new parent. Plus, as a new parent, you only have time for a few chapters. Take it and read, the advice herein is great--it works!
Only regret is that I didn't read it before our son was born. Worked wonders. So glad we Gave swaddling another try! He's two now, but we still use white noise.
In the last couple of years, I have read - or at least tried to read - more "self-help" type books than probably the rest of my life combined. I am noticing a common problem: the author has a good or even great idea, piece of advice, research, or insight into the human condition. This idea can be adequately communicated in, say, 5 or 10 pages. But, the author would like to make some money off this idea, and therefore goes shopping for a book deal. The publishers would like to sell a hardback at ...more
Dec 30, 2007 Amelia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every new mother
How can I say this?... If you want to never hear your baby cry for longer than 5 seconds and have them sleep through the night for their first three months, read this book and get the instructional DVD. I read it twice and perfected the technique before my baby boy was born and I seriously LOVED having a newborn and NEVER felt like I couldn't console him. It worked EVERY TIME. I really don't know how people do it without knowing this technique. It's a must for every mom.
I cannot say this with enough sincerity or vigor: this book should be standard issue for all new parents.

My wife and I brought our firstborn son home last week and on the first night he transformed from his peaceful, angelic hospital persona to a what-in-holy-hell-is-going-on lunatic.

But this book saved us. Dr. Karp explained in specific detail how to get our baby to shut his pie hole. It was like a miracle, only real. Once we had fed and changed him, we used Karp's "cuddle cure" steps -- swaddl
The problem I have with baby books is that the authors have a tendency to jump to conclusions or to tout their opinions when what I'm really looking for is cold, hard, scientific, data-supported fact. But maybe that's what's so hard about parenting-- there isn't a whole lot of that out there on the subject. :)

Anyway, the only parts that really bugged me about this book were:
1. the author is supposedly a breast-feeding authority. Sorry, but I might believe that more is HE was a SHE and actually
Aban (Aby)
This book saved my daughter and myself from going insane! My granddaughter was born in February and within days proved to be the most challenging of infants: she screamed for what felt like hours and hardly slept. We rarely ever saw the baby contented. Then a friend loaned my daughter this book (I swear there are angels on high looking after us!) and, thanks to what we learned from the book, the situation improved dramatically.

We learned from Harvey Karp, a doctor, that some babies are unable to
I wanted to read this after reading Karp's "Happiest Toddler on the Block" which I really liked.

I thought his theory about the "4th trimester" sounds plausible, which is basically that humans evolved to be born a semester early because our brains are so big, if we continued developing inside we wouldn't be able to get out, so trying to mimic the womb conditions for the first 3 months after the due date will greatly help calm your baby if they are crying for no apparent reason. He gives lots of e
M a y a
Update: Looking back, I feel that the only technique I really used was swaddling, and even then I had to use a Swaddle Me to help me get it tight enough. My baby resisted being swaddled, but it did help her sleep longer. I think the biggest cautionary note I would have for this book is assuming that your newborn's crying is due to over-stimulation. I ended up missing hunger cues because I thought her crying was "normal" for babies. I guess the real question is: if your baby is crying, should you ...more
This book is engagingly written and informative. Most of the outlined "Cuddle Cure" does seem to work… although anecdotally, our own baby isn't impressed by the "Side / Stomach" step.

I'll add that after many bungled attempts to swaddle using a blanket, I now reach exclusively for much-easier SwaddleMe wraps.

All told, this book seems to deserve its current fashionable status, particularly to the extent that it argues against recently-accepted orthodoxy. The author occasionally overstates his cas
Well, I think boo to the apps on the phone. I had a very thorough review posted on here, and it got erased while I was using the Goodreads app on my Droid (I was putting baby to sleep and needed something to do while I was waiting to put her down).

But I digress... 4 stars to this book. Yes there is a lot of fluff, but it really helps you understand why baby is crying and why they need what the author is saying they need. I think this book is better read PRIOR to baby being born. I could imagine
This book primarily deals with how to take care of a baby during the first three months of life. My husband recommended that I read this book before the other infant care books we have and I am glad that I did. We are expecting any day now (I was due two days ago) and I feel like this book has lifted away some of my worries about newborn care. Harvey Karp basically says that for the first three months of life, a newborn is still a fetus. This means the baby is not really in a position to be lear ...more
I'd recommend getting the DVD instead of this book. It's just as repetitious, but it's much shorter to get through, and you don't miss anything from the book.

10,000 stars for the ideas contained within the book, 2 stars for presentation. The author is really repetitious with his ideas, so I ended up skimming most of it. However, the ideas work wonders for my baby!

The 5 S's were things that I naturally tried, either from instinct to comfort the baby or from experience/watching other mothers. But
This is the perfect book if you baby has colic and/or is your first or second child. Useful information, but stuff I learned by accident along the way with all my babies!

Talks about the 5 S's for a happy baby (swing, swaddle, shush, suck, can't remember the last one) and refers to first three months of baby's life as the last trimester. (it is nice to put a name to it)

I am glad I don't have to feel guilty anymore about nursing my babies on demand, holding them a lot, and even sleeping with them
Although a lot of this book is repetitive and redundant, I followed it's advice along with troublesome tots website which I follow nap advice to a T, and it works!! Some stuff in this book I was already doing..Mainly swaddling my baby. One thing I had to quit that is advised is the pacifier because baby kept waking up because it would fall out and she would wake up 20-30 times for us to put it back in her mouth, so we had to wean her of it early, but as long as she was swaddled it did not matter ...more
The basis of this book is that babies are essentially born three months early, and that the best way to calm them for the "fourth trimester" (the first three months of life) is to try to recreate the conditions of the womb. It gives five steps/actions to take to do this that seem like they'll be pretty simple with a little practice. I'm buying it and hope it works. As a wise coworker with three kids told me when I mentioned some parenting book I was reading, though, "just remember when she's bor ...more
The main points were great, but lots of unnecessary "fun facts" I ended up skipping. Can't wait to put what I learned into practice!
Excellent book. I first heard about it when my husband and I took our birth preparation class almost 4 years ago for our first child. I bought a copy last year when I saw it at Target, but hadn't read it yet (my two girls picked up on sleeping very quickly and were never fussy). That all changed two months ago when I had my son, and my first experience with colic. The ideas in this book made all the difference! He goes to bed around 9 and doesn't wake up to eat until around 4, then goes back to ...more
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Review 4 36 Aug 26, 2012 09:25AM  
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Dr. Harvey Karp is a nationally renowned pediatrician and child development specialist. He is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine. Over the past 30 years, he has taught thousands of parents, from working moms to superstars like Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer and Pierce Brosnan his secrets for making children happy.

Dr. Karp has committed his full-time efforts to writing,
More about Harvey Karp...
The Happiest Toddler on the Block: The New Way to Stop the Daily Battle of Wills and Raise a Secure and Well-Behaved One- To Four-Year-Old The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids from Birth to 5 Years The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block 2-Book Bundle Baby Bliss: Your One-stop Guide for the First Three Months and Beyond Green Babies, Sage Moms: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Organic Baby

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