I was speaking to Daddy R last night about what he thought the best bit of parenting advice we received was and he said definitely the Five S’s. As Baby C is four and a half months old we are past the Five S’s stage and so I had kind of forgotten about them…although I forget everything these days including to press the button in the elevator so that the lift actually moves. Anyway, I digress, the Five S’s. What are they? Read on and all will be revealed.
When I was pregnant a friend recommended this book claiming it was absolutely magic. So being a good little…although at this point I was definitely getting bigger…mom-to-be I went right out and got it.
For those of you who don’t know about Harvey Karp and his Five S’s steps to quieting babies he is a bit of a baby soothing guru who probably quite correctly describes the first three months of the babies life as the fourth trimester and based on that premise puts forth strategies to calm upset babies.
The Five S’s are:
2. Side/stomach position
3. Shhhhing sounds
The pregnant me kind of glossed over reading this book thinking surely my baby won’t need all these techniques to quiet him…I had seen babies on tv and all they did was sleep so I thought it couldn’t possibly be that hard to get my baby to settle. But once Baby C arrived I was so glad that I was familiar with the Five S’s…especially S’s number one, three and four.
When you are in hospital settling the baby seems easy…first of all your baby is in complete shock and doesn’t even want to open their eyes…you are in similar shape but don’t have the luxury of entering a fugue state…and second of all the midwives make sure the baby is swaddled. Then as the days go on the baby becomes more and more aware that they are no longer in your uterus which means they are less and less calm and the midwives give you more and more autonomy which means less and less swaddling. Cue upset baby and upset parents.
We asked the midwives over and over again to demonstrate swaddling, we had the method down and we were swaddling Baby C like seasoned pros but then it seemed that Baby C liked to have his arms free so we stopped the swaddling. Big mistake…huge. The crying started…mostly on Baby C’s part but a few parental tears were shed as well. One day Baby C was crying and crying and crying and having tried everything I thought I might as well try swaddling him. He literally stopped crying before I finished wrapping him. Magic. And if swaddling alone didn’t work, the combination of swaddling, shhhing and swinging always did. We didn’t really delve into the side/stomach position or sucking as it seemed just three S’s were enough to get Baby C settled.
After about three months we found that we didn’t need the shhhing and the swinging but we continued to swaddle as it seemed to give Baby C a cue that it was time to calm down and go to sleep. Around that same three month mark he found his hands and this time really did want to have them free so he could suck on his fingers and his thumbs. Having learned our swaddle lesson the hard way we experimented by allowing one hand out and then we eventually wrapped just his body leaving both his hands out. Now at four and a half months he has graduated to no swaddle…now we have our night time routine but that is the subject for another post!
A few other notes about the Five S’s and specifically swaddling:
I know there are a lot of nifty swaddle blankets out there and we actually did buy a few but I found them to be too complicated. Maybe it was my baby brain but each blanket folded differently and I could never remember which one folded which way and while I was wrangling straps and pockets and velcro Baby C was screaming, begging me just to wrap him up! So big squares of flannel that were given to us by a very wise Cousin G were our ticket. Old school, but they worked.
I believe there is also a DVD version of this book which…obviously…instead of just describing the methods actually demonstrates them…but I just looked for the Five S’s on youtube.com and was able to find plenty of helpful video.
The Five S’s are great because dads can do them too! That is right moms…make sure that dad learns how to swaddle, shhh and swing and away you go…you can shower, you can get out of your pjs or you can do what I did and shower, get back into your pjs and then drink hot chocolate while watching The Block!