My first baby was mellow and easy to care for. Whenever he was upset, a quick nursing session would usually calm him immediately. I thought all babies were like that, easily soothed by breastfeeding and cuddling. Ha!
My second baby was a completely different story. About two weeks after birth, he started screaming and DID NOT STOP. Cuddling him did not stop the screaming, nursing him did not stop the screaming. He screamed and screamed and screamed all day and all night, and I thought I was going to lose my mind. What was wrong with him? What was wrong with me? Why was he so different from his brother? I was upset, angry, sleep-deprived, hormonal...in a terrible state. Those were dark, dark days.
At some point I remembered that someone had given me a DVD of "The Happiest Baby on the Block" when I was pregnant, and somewhere in my clouded, exhausted mind, I could vaguely remember that it had something to do with soothing colicky babies. Was that what my baby had? Colic? I dug out the DVD and made plans to watch it with my husband that night.
I can still feel the relief and hope that flooded through me as I watched the video for the first time. That baby who wouldn't stop screaming, he was just like mine! There were a LOT of babies like this, in fact, and their parents felt just as helpless and miserable as we did. Dr. Harvey Karp explained that he saw so many heartbreaking cases of child abuse as a pediatrician, and at the root of many of them was a baby who "wouldn't stop crying", and the parents just snapped. He set out to try to find a way to soothe these "colicky" babies, to help their parents before things took a dark turn for the worse.
What I learned were the 5 Ss. Swaddling, Side (or, Stomach), Shhhh, Swinging and Sucking. Five techniques that I wasn't sure about at first, but swore to try. Right on cue, our fussy baby woke up and started screaming at the end of the video, and we put the Shhh and Side techniques to work. He calmed down! He even went to sleep!
The next day I swaddled him up tight, and bought a baby swing (which I had dismissed as unecessary junk before). He fought the swaddling at first, and I was hesitant, but after a minute in his swaddle, he calmed down...I could see the tension leaving his face, and his body relaxing! I had a stash of pacifiers already, because whereas my first baby didn't want anything to do with them, this baby was different. He NEEDED to suck, constantly, but his reflux meant that he couldn't constantly breastfeed. I had figured out that much. So again, a whole different set of rules.
I had the baby swing on slow at first, the fast setting seemed awfully fast. But Dr. Karp said this was counter-intuitive...these babies NEEDED the swing to be fast, and slow wouldn't work. So I set the swing on high with my swaddled baby inside, and OMG, his eyes closed and he went to sleep within a minute. A minute! It was like magic, some kind of miraculous, wonderful, crazy magic. I cried with relief and happiness.
So now I had this set of tools. Sometimes just a Shhhh would work to calm my poor upset baby, at other times I literally had to use all five of the Ss to soothe him. It was everything that I had rejected with my first. Pacifiers and swings and swaddling...ha, well, what did I know! Every baby is different, I learned that lesson...and don't be so quick to judge.
The Happiest Toddler is a continuation of the wisdom in The Happiest Baby, but from the angle of soothing the frustrations of behavior and communication that often arise at this age. This book got me through ages 2 to 4 with both my children. Age 3.5 was a real low point...it seemed that meltdowns were always at hand. These techniques helped us through, and enabled us to stave off the worst of them.
The Happiest Toddler will give you the tools and skills to solve troublesome toddler behaviors like separation worries, fears, abandonment issues when a new baby arrives, dawdling, interrupting, whining, defiance, refusing medicine, fighting the car seat, picky eating, aggressive and/or dangerous behavior, hitting, pinching, biting, running away. My children are out of toddlerhood now (youngest is 4.5 at the time of this writing), but I still use these techniques and I'll let you in on a secret...they work fantastically well on adults too!
Who said parenting was easy? This is no job for sissies! It's by far the hardest, most relentless job I've ever had. Rewarding...yes, but it has taken me to my breaking point on multiple occasions. I am so grateful for learning about Dr. Karp's tools and gentle, respectful, loving techniques. I am thrilled to be able to share these books and DVDs with other parents, and I hope they are as helpful to you as they have been to me.
The Happiest Baby on the Block
This one made my eyes leak watching it. Thinking back to our first desperate attempt at swaddling, shhing and side jiggling our little screamer, and it was just like this! Miraculous. The look on the parents' faces says it all. I know that look.
The Happiest Toddler on the Block
The Happiest Baby on the Block - DVD $26SALE! $21
Birth - 6 months.
The bestselling parenting DVD ever! Winner of Parent's Choice Award. Turn on your baby's amazing calming reflex in minutes. Soothes most fussies, even colic, and gently boost your baby's sleep.
The Happiest Baby on the Block - BOOK $15SALE! $12
Birth - 6 months
The DVD covers the essentials of baby calming. The Happiest Baby BOOK adds much more detail by describing:
Why the 5 Ss work
Calming tricks used by parents around the world
Knowing if your fussy baby has a medical or feeding problem
How to wean the 5 Ss
The essentials for surviving the first 6 months.
Never again will you be helpless while your baby cries!
The Happiest Toddler - DVD $26SALE! $21
8 months - 5 years
In The Happiest Toddler, you'll learn:
The #1 rule of good communication
Four simple steps for translating anything you want to say into your child's primitive language: Toddler-ese.
Foolproof ways to encourage good behavior
How to defuse more than 50% of your toddler's meltdowns in seconds!
Smart solutions to the prickliest problems of the toddler years.
A simple way to teach even a one-year old to be more patient!
The Happiest Toddler - BOOK $15SALE! $12
8 months - 5 years
Goes into further detail than the HT DVD, with more great ways to boost your child's patience, improve your little one's discipline, end picky eating, whining, etc.
Baby DVD + Book - $32
Toddler DVD + Toddler Book - $32
Baby + Toddler DVDs - $40
Baby + Toddler Books - $20
Complete Set - Baby + Toddler DVDs + Books = $50
Comments or questions about The Happiest Baby/Toddler on the Block?