“The Happiest Baby on the Block”


A few weeks ago, my mom bought us a book called The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD.  It’s about how to cope with and care for an otherwise seemingly unhappy baby that cries a lot.

I’ve read through about 98% of the book now, and aside from being a bit wordy, repetative and fluffy for my tastes, it does have a lot of useful information.  By the way, even my wife’s Japanese translation of the book was very wordy.

One of the more interesting points in the book is the so-called fourth trimester.  At first, I thought it was a ridiculous notion to think that full-term babies in general are born 3 months too early.  But after reading Karp’s reasoning for this, it did seem to make a lot of sense.  In his book, Karp says that human babies are born developementally  earlier than the other mammals, so that the can pass through their mother’s birth canal better.  Moreover, maturity-wise, Karp considers them to still be fetuses.  But, by three months of age, they seem to have a better grasp of the world, communicate better, and are more intuitive with their parents. 

This all made sense to a certain degree, but it doesn’t quite explain premature babies.  Although some premature babies tend to develop a bit slower than others, many thrive right after birth.  I have a hard time believing that a baby born two months early would be considered a fetus until they are five months old.

In the last couple of weeks, I can definately see a positve change in Haruka’s overall behavior.  Hence, according to Karp, I guess this means that she is navigating through the latter half of the fourth trimester a bit better than the first half.  She still cries a lot, but Karp’s method of soothing seems to work well.  Haruka is particularly better behaved when she is swaddled and swung (in her swing cradle), but there are still times when she is impossible to soothe, (even properly using all five of the so-called five S’s), and we all have to just ride out the storm.  Those difficult periods are noticeably decreasing though.

All and all, the book does offer some really good advice; I just wish it was written a bit better though.  If all of the fluff was cut out, the book would definately read better,  half the width, and very factual, but I guess Karp felt it needed to appeal to the general public who might need the fluff to keep from getting bored with just points and facts.

Haruka is changing in appearance almost everyday.  When I was rocking her to sleep last night, I noticed that her eye lashes have grown considerably longer in the last week.  And I’m not sure if its due to genetics, or spending most of the day asleep in a brightly sunlit room, but she seems to have darkened a bit.  She looks to have a slight tan now.

Haruka's smiling face

Haruka’s smiling face as she sleeps

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