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The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer
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The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  20,356 ratings  ·  2,693 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 t
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Bantam (first published May 28th 2002)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  20,356 ratings  ·  2,693 reviews

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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 rated it did not like it
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.
May 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
May 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Lisa R.
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baby-training
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
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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...

Adam Floridia
Aug 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star-books
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
Dec 11, 2008 rated it liked it
The basic points are good - and they work. But, the book is amazingly boring.
Brent Weeks
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Honestly, no offense to this book’s feelings, but it should have been a pamphlet instead.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-recommended
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:
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: by Helen Ball of ISIS & Durham U Parent Infant Sleep Lab

And visit the "resources" tab on to find a local La Leche League group for breastfeeding support.
Aug 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Really people, why do we always forget? There is such a thing called mothers instinct, and books like these make it seem as if it is something we made up. "when you do this, baby will do this", and etc, no no! Not all babies are the same, and no, they do not react in the same way! there are some good tips here, but mostly it repeats on the same thing over and over. As soon as my baby was born, I realized this book did nothing for me. Reality is always much better!
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Illuminating and inspiring!
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Agreed with other reviewers that the book is overly wordy, though Dr. Karp's method is highly effective and has saved my sanity as a first-time mother, especially during the early weeks when I did not know how to soothe my little booger.
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
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
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
April Hoy
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read that saved us and Rhett!
Kim Huppert
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Disclaimer: I'm not a parent yet so I can't say whether or not the 5 S's work or not; however, this book totally turned me off. I had a few major problems, which mirror a lot of other people's reviews on this book:

1. This book repeats itself...a lot. I actually want to re-read it and note how many times a sentence, point, fact, etc. is repeated. That would maybe make this book more entertaining. It definitely could have been made into a pamphlet. I actually had to stop reading it finally during
Wes Smith
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Haven’t had to use the ideas behind this book yet but it makes a lot of sense and is very easy to read. Really hoping it works! The major drawback is this would be better in a 20 page book instead of 200. Very repetitive and lots of stories that are unnecessary.
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
The fourth trimester philosophy mashes a lot of sense to me and I have high hopes for the 5 Ss. However, I do agree with other reviewers that the book was padded. It was longer than necessary and even repeated itself, which annoyed me. Still, I'll be trying the techniques!
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
As a first time mom the content in this book was SO helpful at understanding newborns and how to care for them. It answered many questions I had and also gave very explicit tips and tricks on how to calm a baby. Everything I have tried from the book so far has worked beautifully with my son. As a book, it was very repetitive and there was a lot of filler material. I didn’t mind it as much because the repetition helped me remember key points but this easily could have been a long blog post or art ...more
Katie Browning
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it
The five steps the author shares in this book make sense to me, but don't know if I buy into his whole "fourth trimester" theory. I did find the advice of shhhhing loudly because that's what babies are used to interesting. We'll see how it works in real life in a few weeks!
Carryn Lund
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book could probably be 20 pages instead of 200+ but nonetheless the guidance is practical and, from what I understand from parents of newborns, incredibly useful. I’ll find out soon!
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
The information is great, but the author droned on and on and repeated the same things over and over to the point where I skipped some paragraphs so I didn't have to reread identical sentences.

We're using the 5 S's and they are working effectively! Our baby obviously cries, but we have been able to comfort him and limit his screaming so we can stay sane and he can stay happy. It's a win-win for both of us.
Cristy Jimenez-Shawcroft
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really helpful tips. I finished this book just in time for my first child’s birth. Let’s see if I can apply them.
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
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 co
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Review 5 38 Jan 08, 2018 12:31PM  

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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
“Can young babies inadvertently be turned into brats who demand constant holding and attention? Thankfully, the answer to that question is … No! During the first three months of life (the fourth trimester), it’s impossible to spoil your baby by letting her suck or stay in your arms for hours. Does that surprise you? It really shouldn’t when you remember that you were lavishing her with these sensations twenty-four hours a day—up until the moment of birth. Even if you hold your baby twelve hours a day now, it’s a giant reduction from her point of view. What” 1 likes
“Constipation: Interesting Ideas on a Dry Subject” 0 likes
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