Monday, April 15, 2013

The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep, by Harvey Karp, MD ~ Review

Anyone who has ever looked through the section of baby book resources at any book store in the country is sure to know who Dr. Karp is.

Author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, and The Happiest Toddler on the Block, Dr. Karp is well-known for his methods to help calm baby into a comfortable and easy-going pattern of days and nights. As someone considered knowledgeable about the early months of a newborn's life, the "fourth trimester", facing colic, temper tantrums and more, it's no surprise that Dr. Karp has moved forward to address what is often considered a parent's biggest struggle when it comest to parenting.


In his latest release Dr. Karp takes us on a journey through our understanding of sleep, or lack of it - lack of understanding, that is - not necessarily lack of sleep. Or maybe both?

babies, sleep training, motherhood, newborns

The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep is a combination of some of the great tips Dr. Karp included in his previous books, along with information regarding facing these sleepless nights with a more direct approach to helping our children, and ultimately ourselves and our partners, get a better night's rest.

I'll admit that when I started this book I began flipping through some of the earlier pages. If I were a brand new parent looking for answers on how to help my baby get to sleep on schedule or more quickly, I would not want to be reading all of this. I'd be skimming til I got to the answers. Or what I'd assume would be the answers. As a new mom I did a lot of things out of instinct and a lot of things recommended to me. I tried everything. My baby did not skip the witching hours. She cried effectively every.single.night from 6-9 or 10pm. For real. If I were tearing my hair out I'd not want to read this stuff.

But Dr. Karp was onto me. It's page 22 where he, himself, knows we're asking "why is this science lesson relative to your life?" ... and yes, I was. But the understanding of the shorter sleep cycles children have did some explaining as to why they might wake up as frequently as many a baby will do.

Moving past the so-called science we find ourselves starting with the early days of sleep.

"Babies have an amazing ability to learn, which allows us to teach them to sleep better and longer," pg. 31.

Interesting concept, isn't it? Teach our babies to sleep? Shouldn't they just be tired enough to KNOW? /tell me you weren't just thinking that?/

I'll admit, as a mom to a 6-year old I probably shouldn't have to be reading this book. I decided I wanted to because I was curious. And because I have read the other books and learned some things from them. Some people will say stay away from all the baby books. I've been that person now and then, because I truly do believe that following your gut is often the best way to go. Mama's intuition will lead you down the right path more often than not.

But as someone who never could go along with crying it out (personally) and struggled with getting my baby to sleep anywhere besides on the breast and/or in a car, I figured that some of the tips given for the older children might give me a new frame of mind as I try to settle my daughter into bed every night.

Some of the tips might work for you. Some might not. This is where the 'you know your child best' mindset comes into play. There are loads of recommendations here. Not every single one will be THE one that gets your baby to drift off into dreamland. But some of them will work. Reminders to establish a bedtime routine apply for kids my daughter's age, too. No roughhousing before bed! Quiet play! No TV (sometimes guilty here ...). White noise. Oh, how white noise saved us when she was a baby. Specifically the hair dryer. We lived by it. Swaddle and a hair dryer or the hair dryer track on a white noise CD. Sssshushhh. * Shush is one of Karp's 5 S's from previous reads. 

One thing I was pleased to see in this book was a mention (albeit brief) of postpartum depression. Karp reminds the reader that although many PPD cases start early on, some can show up months after delivery and last for months or years. It's critical that you get yourself or your partner help if they are experiencing postpartum depression symptoms.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms that you are unsure about, please consider reviewing these postpartum depression resources over at Band Back Together for more information. It's real and it's serious and you can get help - for yourself or a loved one. Please don't shrug it off.

When our babies don't sleep it can trigger our emotional responses. We're exhausted. We're at the end of our rope. We need rest. Dr. Karp has some ideas that might help us get there. Consider checking out his website to introduce yourself to some of them. And good luck! I hope your baby sleeps well for you soon. I've SO been where you are. And I send you sweet dreams and loads of lullabies.

You can find more information on this book here at The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep.

* I am participating in a book review campaign via the One2One Network for this particular book. I was not compensated in any way for my review. Thoughts expressed are completely my own. I will be entered in a drawing for a giftcard after completing this review, but there's no guarantee I will win. *


  1. My firstborn cried and cried and cried, he was colicky and all of it! My second born was not colicky but he didn't sleep until 11 months, I wish I had thought to consult a book--I pretty much just tuffed my way through. Great review!

  2. I love his first book and have even tried some of his techniques on my toddler's tantrums. Karp knows his stuff.


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