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Baby Book Review: “The Happiest Baby on the Block”


I’d like to welcome Mr. Engineer as a guest blogger for this post!

Post Topic: The Happiest Baby on the Block by Karp

The fact that we do not have a baby yet, definitely makes this book review a bit premature.  That being said, I can appreciate the efforts of any author who wrote a book dedicated to figuring out how to make a baby stop crying in the most efficient way possible.  The Happiest Baby On The Block is written by Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician, who would greatly approve of the theme of this blog. The fundamental premise of the book is to break down ‘colic’ into its base cause(s), and to apply a direct, repeatable process (that he dubs “The Cuddle Cure”) to remediate the issues.  Sounds like music to our linear-loving ears, does it not?

The truth is that this book could probably be about 30-50 pages to lay out the author’s hypothesis about why colic exists (that human’s would stay in the womb for another 3-4 months if our heads weren’t so big), how Western culture has effectively created colic (because it doesn’t exist in other cultures) and made some causes of colic worse (because we appreciate space and privacy, so we think a baby does too), and the author’s 5-step process for soothing your screaming baby (swaddle, stomach/side, swing, shhhh, and sucking). However, no good publisher would let a book that could be 50 pages come out being anything less than 150 pages.  So we, the reader, are subjected to quite a bit of bloat in the form of forced and fake sounding testimonials from patients of Dr. Karp to substantiate his current, relevant point.

My criticism of the extra content aside, I think this book is a great resource to anyone with a fussy baby. The author makes a point of saying any of his 5 techniques by themselves may work great on a baby that is good at calming themselves.  For those parents that are not so lucky, the book digs into the ‘why’s’ of colic and then immediately into the how’s to fix it.  The book itself is a very easy read (I read it in about 5 total hours), and you can feel free to skip over the sections that don’t apply to/interest you or your baby.  I am looking forward to updating this review after we’ve had a chance to try out the Dr’s techniques and theories to see if it holds with our baby.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/05/2011 15:07

    I haven’t read the entire book, but Dr. Karp was interviewed on an episode of the Pregtastic (a podcast) and he discusses his techniques and encourages the DVD over the book. Have you seen the DVD? I’m tempted to order. I’m a little too bored by the book!

    • 08/05/2011 15:19

      I have not seen the DVD, but I did just look it up and it is apparently available at my local library so I may check it out! Thanks for the tip!

  2. 08/11/2011 14:05

    My wife and I have used this book as a reference over and over again and I am always amazed at the relevance of the Sears’ advice. But rather than go into specifics about the book’s virtues (plenty of people have done that below), I would just like to comment on some of the negative criticism that other users have given this book. First of all, let me make it clear that (obviously) everyone is entitled to their opinions; I’m not trying to say that anyone HAS to like this (or any) book. But if you are going to publicly critique it, it’s only fair that you present the information accurately and comment on real shortcomings, not imagined ones.A reader from Dallas states: "Use this book with great caution. If you want nightly habitual feedings, crying for response, and other stressful habits built into your child, use this book." That’s pretty scary sounding, but let me present another scenario: My wife and I have let our child (now two years old) share the bed with us since he was born and it has been an unmitigated pleasure throughout. Except for rare occasions, he has always slept through the night, has never needed a bottle to get to bed, and has never shown any signs of being unusually "needy". Also, my wife did not have to get out of bed to breastfeed him when he was still feeding at night [Newsflash: Pretty much ALL babies feed during the night when they are very young infants – don’t blame that on co-sleeping]. Now that my wife is pregnant again, we have transitioned him into his own room with absolutely no fuss. In contrast, my sister has never let her baby sleep in bed with her and the baby used to get up twice a night for a year and a half. The point is this: there is no right or wrong way, and there are no guarantees; babies are all very different, they’re not little robots. We let our baby sleep with us because we LOVED it, and we will do it with our next one. The Sears state very clearly that you should do what you are comfortable with and that there is no right or wrong way. They just ask people to be OPEN to the idea of co-sleeping and to question those who so confidently state that it is wrong.[By the way, those who condemn it have zero scientific evidence to support their claim. Think about it: Modern day humans have been around for 2.5 million years. For 99% of that time we have been foragers and hunter-gatherers. Do you think we would have survived if sleeping with your children was "wrong"? Foraging and hunting tribes don’t carry around cribs with them.]Anyway, my point is that the Sears definitely do NOT say that there is only one way to put your kid to sleep.A reader from New York asks: "Will co-sleeping wane in popularity as parents tire of sleeping with twin 5 years olds and an 8 year old and word gets around on the difficulty of ever getting the children out of your bed?"That’s a good question. I have a few questions of my own. Have you ever tried it? Do you know for a fact that it is difficult to get kids out of bed and into their own beds? Do you think that the Sears really suggest that all of your kids should sleep in the parents’ bed, regardless of age? Did you see the part in the book where they say that you should do what you are comfortable with and what makes the most sense to you?The bottom line is that the authors clearly and refreshingly state that mothers and fathers know a lot more about raising their children than they are given credit for. Rather than telling prospective parents that YOU MUST sleep with your baby or YOU MUST breastfeed, the overall effect of their book is to say YOU CAN sleep with your baby regardless of what society tells you and YOU CAN breastfeed if you want to maximize your baby’s health and the bond between mother and child. Of course, no one HAS to do anything, but it’s nice to have alternative sources of information.Thanks for listening.

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