Your Mini Cart

The Happiest Baby Techniques - The 5 S's

The Happiest Baby Techniques   - The 5 S's

When you are looking for solutions for a crying baby or helping a newborn sleep, look no further than the amazing 5 S's techniques. These techniques are so good, they inspired us to found The Sleep Store back in 2006 after using the 5 S's with our first two babies. In his book and DVD, The Happiest Baby, Dr Harvey Karp outlines how ‘The 5 S’s’ can calm your baby, switch off their crying and give you so much more confidence in your parenting. Rather than finding the first few months with your baby stressful, these techniques help you and your baby enjoy their '4th Trimester' together as you both adjust to your baby adjusting to being outside the womb.

The 5 S's are


  • Swaddling

  • Shushing

  • Swinging

  • Side/Stomach position

  • Sucking


These simple and highly effective techniques replicate – as much as practicable, the calming elements of the womb. They turn on a baby’s calming reflex, and work to settle a distressed baby quickly. The techniques work quickly and reliably to calm a crying, colicky baby. So much so that we wonder why GPs and midwives aren't teaching these incredibly effective tools to every new family! AS well as calming your baby, these techniques are also really effective to help your newborn baby off to sleep for naps in the day and resettling after feeds through the night.

Welcome to to wonderful world of the 5 S's - 'womb service' is just what your baby is looking for!

Introduction to the 5 S's


Swaddling a baby is simply wrapping a baby securely in a soft swaddle in a way that replicates the snugness they enjoyed in the womb. Swaddling circumvents the ‘startle reflex’ whereby babies wake themselves when they throw their arms above their heads.

There are lots of ways to swaddle, using either Dr Karp's method with a square swaddle or use one of our easy to use fitted swaddles - view here.

See our swaddling section for guidance on how to swaddle effectively.


Shushing, or white noise, replicates the constant background noise a baby heard in the womb. Tests done in the 1970s confirmed that babies in the womb are constantly exposed to 80-90 decibels of noise. In contrast, the silence of a quiet bedroom ‘post eviction’ can be unsettling for a new-born.

Playing white noise is very effective in helping a baby to settle quickly, both for night sleeps and sleeps during the day.

A variety of forms of white noise are effective in helping babies settle, including radio static, a white noise CD that can be left on repeat, an appliance such as a vacuum cleaner or washing machine, a shower, or a fan. White noise can be played throughout the day and night.

We recommend using white noise continuously for newborns and use for all sleeps. You can also use white noise loud for short periods when baby is really fussy or colicky.

Given babies were accustomed to white noise 24/7 in the womb, anything short of this appears like short change to a newborn!


During life in the womb babies become used to being constantly jiggled around in a sea of amniotic fluid. Replicating this swinging and jiggling is a fast way to help calm a newborn.

Effective ways to swing or jiggle a baby include:


  • a ride in a buggy – particularly on a gravel track,
  • a sling, stretchy wrap carrier or woven wrap carrier
  • a baby swing or bouncer
  • a car ride
  • a bounce on a swiss ball
  • jiggling in arms - see below side/stomach position.

Swinging should not be done vigorously, but with very small movements, so that a baby’s head remains in line with his body, and does not move more than 1-2 inches from side to side. Please see The Happiest Baby DVD for details on how to safely and effectively jiggle your baby.


A baby’s instinct to suck is evident from the moment he or she is born. Sucking from the breast is how a baby finds food – and it is deeply calming.

Use of a pacifier can also be very effective for calming a colicky baby – once a baby’s hunger has been satisfied of course.

Pacifiers should be introduced only when breast feeding is firmly established.

Side/Stomach position

New born babies can become panicked when lying on their back, due to the moro reflex which startles a baby when they think they are falling.

A quick way to help calm a baby who has become distressed in this way is to hold a baby carefully on his or her side or stomach (while applying the other S’s of course!)

It is important to stress that the side/stomach is never for sleeping. It is rather to help resettle a waking baby who has become distressed or to calm a colicky baby.

Holding a baby in your arms on their side or face down along your arm is often much more effective for calming and sleep than holding them on their back.

The Cuddle Cure!

Fussy, unsettled babies often need the 5 S’s used together. This has been called Dr Karp's Cuddle Cure, and is highly effective for calming babies and helping them fall asleep.

As noted above, the cornerstone of the 5 S’s is swaddling. Once a distressed baby is swaddled, she is far more likely to pay attention to the other actions a parent is taking to settle her, such as offering the breast, playing white noise, or holding baby close in the side/stomach position. It is extremely rare that a baby does 'not like' swaddling - babies are used to being tightly bundled in the womb. It's much more likely that a baby is crying due to being over-tired or is missing the sssshing and movement they are used to in the womb, rather than they don't like being swaddled!

The 5 S’s work because they trigger a powerful response inside babies’ brains that turns off their crying – Dr Karp calls this 'the calming reflex'. It is no coincidence that in cultures such as Bali that traditionally give babies a 4th trimester experience, colic is virtually non-existent.

When swaddling and white noise are used together, babies will usually settle very quickly and sleep 1 to 2 hours longer at each sleep!

Recommended Articles

The sleep articles and advice provided on contains sleep information of a general nature. It is not intended to replace personalised information about your baby provided by medical professionals and your Well Child provider. ©2016 The Sleep Store. All rights reserved.