Six steps to help your baby sleep

Steps featured in the segment:
By Dr. Harvey Karp

1st step

Swaddling is the key to calming and sleep! Some babies resist at first, but all calm better - and sleep longer - when wrapped. Swaddle only during fussing and sleep...not 24 hours/day. Wrap for at least 4 months...many need it even longer. (See 6th S - Sleeping.)

Swaddle arms snugly - Keep hips loose, but arms snug (loose arms increase crying). Swaddle in a big, thin blanket (44" square). Never use bulky blankets or cover your baby's head or face.

Keep cool - If hot and sweaty - cool the room, remove clothes…or unwrap.

Feed your baby - During the first weeks of life, some babies get a bit too comfy...and need to be unwrapped and awakened to eat!

(Breastfed babies need 8-12 feeds/day -- formula babies need 6-8 feeds/day.)

2nd step
Side/Stomach Position

The side or stomach is the best position for calming a baby. But never leave your newborn alone on the side or stomach.

Babies should not sleep on side or stomach, especially if swaddled!

3rd step

A strong 5-second "shush" can calm many crying babies...mid-cry! When your baby is upset, play our "Super-Soothing" sounds CD as loud as the crying... even in your car!

Once the fussing lessens, drop the sound to the loudness of your shower. Use the CD and swaddle all night for an extra 1-3 hours of sleep!

4th step

Is your baby still crying after the first 3 S's? Then add some swinging! Fussy babies are calmed the fastest with quick, jiggly, very tiny movements - no more than just 1" (one inch) back and forth. Support your baby's neck and use very small "shiver-like" motions to let the head jiggle in your open hands.

Even if you're upset, never jiggle roughly and never shake your baby. (Also, tell your friends and family never to shake the baby!)

If you use an infant swing, make sure you always: Recline the seat all the way back and buckle your baby in snugly. Fasten the safety strap securely between the legs.

Keep your dog away! (Dogs may jump at a moving swing.) To reduce fussing and increase sleep, swings work best when the baby is swaddled and belted in (strap between the legs) with the "Super-Soothing" sound CD playing.

Important: Ask your doctor's permission before using the swing. If your baby is under 4-weeks-old, premature or has hypotonia (a condition that makes babies floppy as rag doll) s/he may have trouble breathing if the head falls too far forward.

5th step

Sucking is the icing on the cake of calmness! Sucking on your breast or a clean finger is wonderful, but please avoid pacifiers until you baby is nursing well, unless advised by a doctor. Bedtime pacifiers may reduce SIDS (most SIDS occurs 2-6 months...and rarely up to 1 year).

6th step

Want your baby to sleep an extra 1-3 hours? Use swaddling and strong white noise all night long. Together these can boost your baby's sleep...immediately! (Never let your baby sleep on the tummy!)

At around 4 months, put your baby to sleep swaddled with one arm out. If your baby sleeps well, you can stop the wrapping. If s/he sleeps poorly, resume normal swaddling and try the 1-arm wrap again in a month. Some infants need swaddling for 6-9 months, but most are ready to sleep unwrapped before then.

White noise magically helps infants AND toddlers sleep better, even through teething pain, mild hunger and street noise! Babies do best when you use The Happiest Baby "Super-Soothing" Sleep Sounds CD all night long for at least the first 12 months.

You'll find complete instructions on weaning the 5 S's and much more in The Happiest Baby book!

For more information, please visit

About Dr. Harvey Karp:

Dr. Harvey Karp is a world renowned child development expert and America's most read pediatrician. Creator of the bestselling DVDs and books, The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block, his work has literally revolutionized our understanding of the needs of young children.

The Happiest Baby teaches how parents can calm even the fussiest babies in minutes...or less...and help any baby sleep an extra 1-3 hours per night.

The Happiest Toddler teaches a new way to communicate with children 8 months to 5 years of age that can quickly prevent 50-90 percent of tantrums and boost a toddler's patience and cooperation in just days!

Dr. Karp's work is taught in hundreds of hospitals, clinics and military bases across the US and has been featured times on shows like Dr. Phil, Larry King Live, The View and Good Morning -- no wonder the NY Times celebrated his work by proclaiming "Roll over Dr. Spock!"

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.