Happiest Baby on the Block vs HUG Your Baby

When I speak with parenting and childbirth professionals, I am often asked how HUG Your Baby is similar to, or different from, the work of Dr. Harvey Karp, creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block.

Certainly, Dr. Karp has contributed much, over decades, to parents around the world. In addition to his work as a pediatrician, he has developed popular educational materials that address common concerns of new parents. "What does it mean when my baby cries?" "What can I do to help my fussy baby?" "Am I a bad parent because I can't calm my baby?" Attention to the fact that babies need lots of care (the "Fourth Trimester") and offering the catchy "Five Ss" approach to calming a babyare ideas that have helped parents near and far. The title of his work (and book) speaks to parents' overriding desires to have a happy, content baby. What's more, Dr.Karp is a dynamic and effective teacher. For all these good reasons, childbirth educators, doulas, and nurses around the country have studied his material as they strive to help the parents they serve. Without a doubt, he and his trainees have helped many parents.

Unfortunately, recent research published in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine demonstrates that simply showing The Happiest Baby on the Block video to parents does not reduce the amount of time a baby spends crying, increase parental sleep, nor decrease parental stress.

HUG Your Baby is different from Dr. Karp's work in three important ways.

Similar to Dr. Karp, HUG Your Baby deals directly with issues around crying.

First, HUG Your Baby gives parents skills to recognize an upset baby BEFORE crying occurs. We do this by teaching moms and dads to see "what 'Zone' their baby is in" ("Resting, Ready, or Rebooting Zone") and "when their baby 'Sends out an SOS' - Sign of Over-Stimulation". When parents learn to identify a baby's "Zone" and to recognize "Body and Behavioral SOSs," they can comfort their baby before she escalates into a fretful cry.

Second, HUG Your Baby works to support babies as they learn the important task of "self-regulation." Self regulation is a baby's increasing ability to calm down in order to respond effectively to the world around them. That's why HUG Your Baby recommends that parents acquire "T.O. DO" skills. First, "T" - Talk to calm the baby. Parents will see that some babies respond simply to a parent's voice. "O"- Observe a baby's efforts to contribute to their own calming (bringing his hand to his mouth, smacking his lips, or using the fencing reflex). And, then take the "DO" actions similar to those described through the years by Dr. Karp and other medical and child development experts (e.g., swaddling, swaying, or offering the breast or finger to suck).

Third, HUG Your Baby is not just interested in helping a parent learn to calm her baby. The HUG employs "Zone" and "SOS" information to help a baby breastfeed successfully, sleep well, and interact effectively with her mom and dad.

There are lots of babies in the world; therefore, there exists a great need to support all the parents who love these babies deeply. So, I am happy when I hear that parents and babies are happy - happy whether they find that peaceful place through the work of Dr. Karp or through HUG Your Baby's approach!