Harvey Karp, MD


If your newborn is part of the one out of four babies who suffer from colic, Dr. Harvey Karp's book offers a practical plan to calm the crying and help baby sleep longer. After studying colic worldwide and discovering it is absent in some cultures, Dr. Karp arrived at what he calls the "Missing Trimester" theory. Newborn humans, he says, are less mature than most newborn animals (cows and horses walk the day they're born!). He surmises that babies are pushed from the womb before their bodies mature fully, probably because of the large human brain. Colic, according to Dr. Karp, is actually a sort of "homesickness" for the womb. Why no colic in some cultures? The author says that in certain countries (Bali, for one), babies are given much more of a "fourth trimester" experience than in the U.S. Dr. Karp's methods are devised to help you do the same by recreating the sensations of the womb.

What you have to do

Follow the "Five S's" to recreate a womblike environment and calm your baby.

  • Swaddling: This lets baby know you're preparing to take care of her.
  • Turn baby onto her side or stomach: Do this while calming baby, since this is how she likely feels most secure (but when you place baby in her crib, put her on her back as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to avoid SIDS).
  • Make soothing "shh" sounds: Loud white noise imitates what baby heard in the womb. Use your own voice or a hair dryer, vacuum or other appliance.
  • Swinging: Since babies are constantly bounced and jiggled in the womb, movement '- particularly tiny, vigorous movements '- says "home" to them.
  • Sucking: In the womb, baby could reach and suck fingers easily. Therefore Dr. Karp suggests introducing a pacifier for the first four months of baby's life.
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