How to Calm a Crying Baby in 5 Seconds-

Five Steps to Comfort a Crying Baby, by Harvey Karp, M.D., FAAP

- EVERYTHING stops the instant a newborn starts crying. Parents rush to figure out what's wrong. They change the diaper, feed and burp her. But the infant's cries crescendo -- inevitably grating on mom and dad's nerves. Frustration sets in. Parents begin to think if they can't even calm their baby's cries, what good are they?

What if there were a way to hush a crying infant in seconds? What if parents could turn their baby's nerve-wracking wailing into happy and relaxed gurgling and elevate themselves to confident, successful parents?

Dr. Harvey Karp, a long-time pediatritian and an assistant professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, says he has the answers. There's no magic or miracle involved. According to Karp, babies have a built-in calming reflex and parents just need to learn how to turn it on.

"It's not so obvious. If it were, we'd all be doing it," Karp said. "It just takes a little guidance to learn how to do it."

Prompted by a desire to stop abuse and shaken baby syndrome (a term used to describe the violent shaking of a baby -- usually because the infant won't stop crying -- to the point of injury, brain damage, hearing loss, paralysis or even death), Karp began researching how other cultures handle newborns. He found that babies in African and some Asian cultures don't cry much at all.

"I read about this culture in Africa where 90 percent of babies could be calmed in less than 30 seconds," Karp explained. "So, it was instantly clear that either these babies were mutant little babies, or else their parents knew something that we'd forgotten in our culture.


Dr. Harvey Karp teaches what he dubbed the DUDU (down, up, down, up) method of swaddling. It's better to watch his DVD or take a certified class, but to describe it simply, you have to first place a large, square blanket on your bed and position it like a diamond. Next, fold down the top corner a third of the way down to meet the center of the blanket. Lay your baby down so his head is just above the folded blanket line. Keep his arms at his sides.

Bring the right side of the blanket (D)own across the baby's body and tuck snugly under the baby's lower back. This part must be done well, or the wrap will unravel. Your baby's arm should be held so securely against his side that he can't bend his arm up, even if you let go of the blanket.

Straighten your baby's left arm against his body. Bring the bottom corner (or tail) (U)p across his body to cover that arm and then tuck the fabric tightly under his left arm and shoulder.

Then hold the remaining material in your right hand and bring the fold (D)own to the baby's midchest. Then hold it with your left hand.

Grab the remaining tail and wrap it tightly across the baby's waist and around him like a belt. Bring the rest (U)p to tuck it in at the top, near the baby's chest or shoulder.

If you can slip your hand inside the bound blanket and your hand fits snugly between the blanket and your baby's chest, then it's OK. You don't want it make it too tight, or too loose or else it won't work.

Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics USC School of Medicine
Dr. Harvey Karp is a pediatrician and child development specialist. He is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine, and was in private practice for over 25 years.

Dr. Karp's critically acclaimed books and DVDs, The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block, have made him America's most-read pediatrician. His baby work offers a solution to the 3,000-year old mystery "What is colic?" and helps parents calm crying babies in minutes to boost nighttime sleep. His unique approach to toddler care allows parents to reduce tantrums and help 8 month old to 5 year old children become more patient and cooperative…in just days.

The Happiest Baby educator program has trained thousands of instructors to teach Dr. Karp's effective baby calming and sleep techniques. This approach is used to promote parenting, reduce postpartum depression and breastfeeding failure, prevent child abuse, and promote safe sleep in hospitals, clinics, public health departments and military bases across the country and around the world.

Dr. Karp's work has frequently been featured in the national press, such as the New York Times, USA Today, People Magazine, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, The View, Larry King Live, CNN, BBC, and others. He is also an outspoken advocate for our children's right to a healthy and safe environment, and the importance of breastfeeding.

Dr. Karp lives in Los Angeles with his wife Nina. Their grown daughter, Lexi, lives in New York.

You can find out more on Dr. Karp's website.

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