The only thing more precious than a newborn is the slight amount of sleep that parents get in between feedings, diaper changes, and fussy tears. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the popular series of parenting guides The Happiest Baby, is more than knowledgeable on the topic and has become a hero to many moms and dads trying to figure out how to get their little ones to sleep.
In his beloved book, The Happiest Baby on the Block ($15), Karp gives exhausted parents specific techniques, which he refers to as the "5 S's," to help sooth their fussy babies into a peaceful rest. Although many parents have memorized the swaddle, side-stomach position, shush, swing, and suck, there's actually another "S" that many don't think about but Karp still recommends.
"The '5 Ss' are just five easy-to-remember ways to imitate the womb, but there are other S's that are very calming to babies, too," Karp explained to POPSUGAR when he stopped by for a live Facebook chat. "One that I love a lot is skin-to-skin contact. Holding your baby skin-to-skin is the most beautiful thing and not just for your baby but for yourself."
Although this technique is popular — and also recommended right after birth — Karp explains that it isn't just for moms to partake in immediately after their baby is born. According to Karp, both moms and dads should consider soothing their babies with this intimate contact to help lull them into a sound sleep. "It really is something you will remember for the rest of your life," Karp said.
However, it's just as important for people to understand how a baby sleeps before setting themselves up with the false expectations that eventually it's possible to get their baby to snooze without interruption throughout the entire night. "When people say sleeping through the night, they think it's a baby going at least six hours nonstop," Karp said. "It turns out that babies never sleep through the night, and it turns out that adults never sleep through the night either."
According to Karp, we all wake up in little bits every few hours, but we don't remember it unless something distracting is going on. For kids, white noise and gentle rocking helps keep distractions at bay.
"So it turns out that babies wake up, too, all throughout the night. But if the room is totally quiet, totally still, and they are just lying there, then it's boring and they are going to wake up all of the way and they want you to come in and help them," Karp said. "But if they have sound and they are snugly wrapped up, or even if they have motion, that will help keep the baby asleep better."
Instead of focusing on the concept of sleeping through the night, parents should prioritize understanding what sleep cues work best for their baby so when he or she does wake up, they very quickly go back to sleep.