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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Happiest Baby On The Block
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294 of 310 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2002
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
After 5 straight weeks of sleepless nights, my husband and I were walking zombies. Our infant would wake every hour to 2 hours throughout the night and just scream. During the day she would also scream uncontrollably - even though the doctor found nothing wrong with her physically. I had convinced myself that she just wasn't a happy baby like our 6 year old was and life with Isabel would be tough!
Then I searched Amazon one night under "Colic" and found this book and video. Even though we have absolutely no time to read, we did watch the video (while she wailed). My husband tried the swaddling and shhing techniques that night and she quieted down after about 10 minutes. Now 1 week later she calms after 5 min or so AND she is sleeping 4 hours at a time. We feel great and she finally looks peaceful - and not agitated.
Both the book and video are geared toward the first 3 months of life.... and the notion that most babies 1st 3 months of life are really the 4th trimester in their developement. Our first child slept soundly from day one..... but we were blown away with this second one. Thank you Dr. Karp! We finally feel like humans again and the stress level in our home has dropped tremendously.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2012
Format: DVD
When I first heard about The Happiest Baby on the Block, I thought it was a gimmick. I thought it would be like so many American "info-mercials" that make promises impossible to implement in reality. However, when I watched The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD I was reminded that many of the techniques I used successfully early in my nursing career in a newborn nursery with, at times, over 30 babies are contained in Dr. Karp's system. As an experienced maternal-child nurse I can say that some of the Happiest Baby techniques are used even today in newborn nurseries and neonatal intensive care units the world over. Unfortunately, with such short hospital stays, and your own personal exhaustion from giving birth, this is a skill the nursery nurses may not have time to teach you as they have to fit in the basics of newborn care, and possibly breastfeeding. The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD carefully and patiently lays out techniques that will make the life of any new parent calm, confident, and allow for more sleep!

Dr. Harvey Karp of UCLA, a pediatrician of over 30 years, is one of those rare pediatricians who, in my opinion, is almost childlike himself and a natural healer. You can see how he empathizes with the predicament these babies (and their parents) are in as they try to calm down their crying and struggle with their new roles. His calm manner will make you feel assured that you are in the right hands as he teaches you his system.

The film takes place in the homes of real parents with their newborns. Dr. Karp personally shows the parents one-on-one and in small groups how to go from crying to calm in minutes.

He explains that your top job as a new parent is to "love your baby like crazy," and after you have showered her with affection, your job is to feed her, calm her. If you have trouble feeding your baby, there are possibly many people in your life who can help, as well as breastfeeding counselors and private organizations if you have nursing challenges. If you need to soothe your baby however, you may find professionals do not have all the answers. This DVD fits the bill for you to learn how.

One of the parents featured in the DVD explains that you may have this image in your mind of leaving the hospital (or birthing center) with this sweet "bundle of joy," only to possibly find in reality, that the bundle never stop crying. One of the new moms explains that, "We had no idea that it could be that difficult and that she could cry day, after day, after day." Not knowing how to calm a baby can lead to your frustration, your inability to bond with your baby, your inability to rest, and possibly problems breastfeeding. Your joyous picture can evaporate.

Dr. Karp gives the analogy that "babies are like smoke alarms. They make this one big shreaky sound-and you can't tell from a smoke alarm if the house is on fire or if you just burnt some toast." He explains that many babies scream even when they just have to burp. To a new parent this can be very alarming and frustrating- especially after you have just checked to see if she is hungry or dry. Dr. Karp's technique shows how the baby can go from "fire alarm" screaming to swaddling, proper holding, and making calming sounds the baby will respond to. Once you have mastered these techniques, it will make you feel like an experienced parent! This DVD, with some practice on your part, will give you back that joyous picture which will make you happy, and most certainly helps your baby become happy and comfortable. Dr. Karp's system teaches you these techniques in 5 easy steps, which he calls the 5 "S's" and that anyone can learn this skill.

These five "S's" are: 1.) Swaddling, 2.) Side or Stomach position, 3.) Shushing, 4.) Swinging (or jiggling), 5.) Sucking. He then outlines patiently and methodically how each of these skills are accomplished. He patient teaching style makes each skill very easy to learn. Plus, one of the benefits of a DVD is that you can pause and rewind as you master each step.

You may have noticed while shopping for your baby there are many products that will help you swaddle your baby (even Dr. Karp's website offers one). Which one to buy? I suggest you pay attention to Dr. Karp as he shows you how to swaddle a baby (the first "S") with an ordinary blanket (with no buckles or velcro). If you have trouble getting the hang of it, or learn better by "doing," I suggest you ask your childbirth educator, nursery nurse or midwife how to swaddle. It is a skill you will be thankful you have when you return home. Dr. Karp explains that you need to use a square shaped blanket (something to remember when making your baby shower wish list).

These are techniques that are easy to learn but may take just a little practice. There is nothing complicated about this system and it is extremely easy to implement. If you are able to watch the DVD before giving birth, you will know what to do once your baby arrives.

If you would like additional personalized lessons, Dr. Karp's website, provides a list of locations of classes nationwide. There is even information on how to become certified if you would like to teach these classes.

The price of the DVD is $26.95 on Dr. Karp's website, The Happiest Baby and you can also find varying prices on Amazon.com. His website also offers package deals, such as a book, CD and other items. The CD contains fast and slow versions that are similar to sounds your baby will hear in utero. Other sounds are "white noise" such as rain, a hair dryer, and a vacuum cleaner. While you may not find the sound of a vacuum cleaner soothing, think about how loud it probably was when the baby is inside under your heart beating, your bowels squishing, and the umbilical cord pulsating-it's a very loud environment.

I would suggest watching the DVD first, as Dr. Karp will show you sounds you can make to soothe your baby (the third "S"). He then demonstrates holding positions to keep the baby soothed. As the DVD progresses he shows you how to use all these "S" techniques together to keep your baby cry-free. It is amazing to witness how the baby is transformed from crying to quiet in seconds. He mentions using a baby swing, but suggests using his calming techniques first, before you put the baby in the swing. He does not advocate putting the crying baby in the swing until the 5 "S's" are performed. Finally, in the fifth "S"-sucking-he explains the ins-and-outs of pacifiers. This information too, is very valuable for new parents.

Dr. Karp has also written a book entitled: The Happiest Baby on the Block. In the book, Dr. Karp further explains his five "S" technique in greater detail. He also writes about colic and the theories of its cause. In the appendix he provides a list of when you should contact your pediatrician as well as "Top Ten Survival Tips for Parents of New Babies." I found the book to be very detailed, but if you have to choose one product, I would start with the DVD.

I have nothing critical to say about this program for two reasons. First, as I explained, early in my career I worked in the newborn nursery. It was me (and only me) with as many as 30 babies. Not wanting to have any new parent see their crying baby through the nursery window, I would use some of these techniques. Back then they weren't called the five "S's," as Dr. Karp so cleverly labeled them. I personally saw how the techniques worked. Second, I watched the entire film and saw first hand how each parent was happy and relieved to see how the techniques work. I also, just to be sure, leant this DVD to several new parents within my own community. They too, had the same glowing reports. Not one report was negative. Unanimously, every new parent said they would highly recommend this to their family member and friends who have new babies. Many of the parents reported, as in the film, that the baby slept an additional 1-3 hours. Imagine the quality of life at your house with an additional 1-3 hours of sleep!

Suggestions: Not only are the tips in this system useful for moms and dads, but for grandparents, siblings, and babysitters (when you are ready to resume "date night" again). I would also suggest that you write the 5 "S's" on paper for all family members to refer to. When sleep deprived it can be difficult to remember 5 steps, let alone one.

My recommendation is, if possible, watch the DVD before the baby is born. This will help you feel comfortable with what to do the first time your baby cries. Experiencing this DVD before hand will make you feel like a seasoned pro when the situation presents itself. I would also strongly suggest that you have the dad or partner watch the DVD. It is in men's nature to want to "fix" things-this DVD will help him know how to "fix" the situation without frustration. Also, when he sees that the system works, it will help him to feel closer to his baby.

Baby Shower Gift: You would be the best, most thoughtful friend if you gave this DVD (and possibly the book) as a baby shower gift. The mom may not know exactly what she has unearthed as she opens it, but trust me on this, when mom sees you again after the baby is born, she will thank you a million times over-particularly if she is a first time mom with little experience with babies. As a maternity nurse, when invited to baby showers, the pressure is on to come up with a great baby shower gift. I strongly feel this reasonably priced DVD and book would fit the bill.

To read about me and other product, book, and DVD reviews, visit PregnancyProfessor(dot)com.
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42 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2004
Format: DVD
We are parents of a 5 week old girl - our first child. At about week 3 we noticed more and more crying in the afternoon/evening. Luckily she would calm down by about 11:00 and sleep for 3 hours, so I know we don't have it as bad as some parents. Nonetheless, it really starts to wear you down. On more than one occasion we questioned our decision to have a baby. We tried the Mylicon drops, but those didn't seem to help much. We talked to our doctor who tried to assure us that this is just a phase some babies go through. Then I remembered a book that was featured on Oprah a couple months ago. Being the skeptic that I am, I didn't pay much attention to it. But desperate times call for desperate measures. We looked up the book here on Amazon, and sure enough it got great reviews. Even better, there was a DVD version for those of us that don't have the time to read the book. So we ordered it and had it shipped overnight. As we were watching it, our daughter started fussing so we followed along with the 5 S's. Sure enough, she calmed down within a minute. We were amazed. We use these techniques everytime she starts to fuss and almost everytime we are able to calm her down. Keep in mind that this isn't a cure for colic/crying, but they are ways to help babies calm themselves. The DVD also includes a Q&A session where Dr. Karp answers a lot of common questions, as well as a 3 calming sound tracks. They are sounds recorded from inside the womb, with different degrees of intensity. Pretty bizarre, but they seem to work. Sure beats running the vacuum cleaner! We definitely recommend this DVD, and we will give it as a gift for any new parents we know.
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98 of 130 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
Raised 3 kids, thought I knew most of the techniques for ssothing babies, helping them through rough days (colic, teething, fussy times). But this video brings NEW research and tips to make life easier for parents of new babies...and if you're an aunt or grandparent, you'll learn something new too. SOme of the suggestions are simply amazing, making specific sounds gently into the baby's ears and seeing an instant, peaceful transformation.

Many of these suggestions come from looking at life from the baby's perspective and, in retrospect, seem like common sense (but not as easy as it sounds, otherwise there'd be no need for this video). Well worth your viewing time and could bring relief to many an exhausted parent (and baby).
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2006
Format: DVD
This DVD has taught me how I can calm my newborn baby boy when nothing else worked. As a first time mother this has been a life saver and I strongly recommend it to all parents. I also read the book which elaborates on many of his points in the DVD. Both are great!!
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2006
Format: DVD
We're using these techniques on our second child and it works. However, it only works if you do them like the DVD shows you. I've had friends that see the movie, think it's great, but somehow missed it when it came to applying it to their screaming infant. Then they complain about what to do with their child, and say, "We just have to find what works".

You have to figure out which combination of the 5 "S's" work, or maybe you need all them. It varies on the day. But if you do them like the DVD shows you, then it does work. After all, the infants in the DVD are not acting. Every one of them is screaming, and they stop! They are all from different families and races.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2005
Format: DVD
I received this dvd as a gift from my sister, I was a bit skeptical, since I usually think these things are a waste of time. My 4 week old has been diagnosed with colic, given useless medicine by the doctor and has screamed most of the time since we got home from the hospital, I thought I would just have to wait it out. I watched the video, did the technique and could not believe the difference, my screaming baby was fast to sleep, laying swaddled in his crib within two minutes. Out of the hundreds of dollars of baby gifts we received, this was by far the best, I'm going to give it at every babyshower for now on. I never write reviews but I just had to for this product.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
My husband and I ordered this dvd after it was recommended in our childbirth class. We thought we were going to be the most prepared parents on the block. We were disapointed to find that this was not the "secret weapon" we were hoping for.

We did learn some helpful things. I liked seeing the step by step instructions for swaddling. Swaddling really helped our baby sleep. (we also put a put a rolled up blanket between him and the bassinet on each side, like they do in the hospital.) And it's true that, although a baby may not seem to like the swaddling and may appear to be resisiting, it is actually comforting to him. I wasn't confident in my swaddling technique, but the dvd helped.

The swinging and shushing were not terribly helpful. And the sucking, well, duh--that's why they're called pacifiers, after all.

The white noise was interesting. When we brought our baby home from the hospital he cried all night. We put the dvd in and played the white noise and he got quiet and looked like he was in a trance (which was preferable to crying). He didn't go to sleep, but he didn't cry...at least for a while. Eventually he snapped out of it and remembered that he was ticked off. Now that he's a little older we use a white noise cd in his room (downloaded a free hour long mp3, burned it to cd, and keep on "repeat") to help him sleep. It helps.
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66 of 91 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Dr. Karp applied common sense to the "problem" of crying babies that most new parents face, by borrowing from traditions being used around the world to calm babies down as if you had "flipped a switch." He acknowledges the existence of a 'fourth trimester', i.e. the first three months of the baby's life and the need to use techniques to make the baby feel as in the mother's womb to calm him/her down, appealing to their calm reflex.
These techniques are summarized as the five S's: Swaddling (very tight, to resemble the tight environment of the uterus), Side or Stomach position (otherwise known as the football hold), Shushing (as loud as the baby cries), Swinging (making the head jiggle slightly, to replicate the mom's movements with the baby in her tummy) and Sucking (with your finger, or a pacifier in place).
As intuitive or odd these techniques may sound to you, you need to view this video: it will probably make the difference for you as it has for so many parents. As I write this, we're in our last couple of weeks of pregnancy, and we're ready to apply them to our upcoming baby boy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
All new parents need this DVD. I also had the book - with a newborn and a 2 year old - what was I thinking??? the DVD is straightforward, shows demonstrations, gives hope to the very sleep deprived and frustrated. My extremely colicky son was soooo much happier. We did the sideways swing -neither of my kids liked the back and forth motion of the regular swings. The side to side motion really helped to settle his reflux.
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