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The 5 “S” Baby System: How To Calm a Fussy Baby

5 S Baby

Do you have a fussy baby? Are you at your wits’ end trying to calm him down? If so, you need to read this blog post. Dr. Harvey Karp has developed a 5 “s” system that can help calm even the fussiest of babies. In this post, we will discuss each of the 5 “s” steps and how they can help your baby relax and fall asleep.

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5 S Baby

Why Babies Get Fussy

Anyone who has ever spent any time around a baby knows that they can be mighty fussy creatures. But why is that? It turns out, that there are a few reasons why babies get fussy. First of all, babies are prone to get cranky when they’re tired. That’s why it’s often said that ‘sleep begets sleep.’

A tired baby will often take shorter naps during the day, which can lead to them being more overtired and fussy come nighttime. Secondly, babies’ tummies are tiny and they digest food relatively quickly, so they can easily become hungry between meals. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on baby’s cues and feed them on demand. And lastly, babies are learning to regulate their emotions and may get overwhelmed or overstimulated easily.

So if a baby is acting fussy, it could be any number of things. The best thing to do is to try and figure out what the issue is and then take steps to fix it. Sometimes it’s as simple as giving baby a cuddle or a nap. Other times, it might take a little more trial and error. But either way, fussy babies are just part of the parenthood journey.

5 S Baby

The 5 “S” Baby System by Dr. Harvey Karp

In his book The Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp lays out the 5 “S” system for calming a fussy baby. According to Karp, the 5 “S” stands for swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking. By using all five of these techniques simultaneously, parents can soothe even the most colicky baby. Of course, not every baby is the same, and some may respond better to one technique over another. However, the 5 “S” system provides a helpful framework for parents who are struggling to calm their crying infant. With a little patience and trial and error, the 5 “S” system can help any parent turn a screaming baby into a sleepy one.


Swaddling a baby is sort of like giving them a big, gentle hug. It makes them feel safe and secure, and it’s also been shown to help calm them down. When a baby is first born, they’re used to being snug and cozy in the womb. So when they’re suddenly out in the open world, all that space can be a bit overwhelming. Swaddling replicates the feeling of being in the womb, and that sense of security can help soothe a crying baby. Swaddling can also help to prevent your baby from startle reflex, which can cause them to wake up crying. So if you’re looking for a way to help calm your little one, swaddling may be worth a try.

-Side/Stomach Position

When a baby is fussy, it can be tempting to try all sorts of things to get them to calm down. However, there is one position that is almost guaranteed to soothe a crying baby: laying on their side or stomach. There are a few reasons why this position is so calming for babies. First, it helps to relieve pressure on the tummy, which can be uncomfortable for infants. Second, it gives them a sense of security and helps them feel more supported. 


White noise is a continuous, low-level sound that can help to mask other sounds, making it easier to sleep through disruptive noises. For babies, white noise can have a calming effect, helping them to fall asleep and stay asleep for longer periods of time. 


If you’ve ever been around a fussy baby, you know that the sound of their cries can be very jarring. But have you ever noticed that when you sway back and forth, the crying often stops? That’s because swaying helps to calm a fussy baby. When you sway, you are actually replicating the rhythms of the womb. The constant movement helps to soothe and relax the baby, making it easier for them to fall asleep.


Have you ever wondered why sucking on a pacifier is so calming for infants? It turns out that sucking is a natural reflex that helps babies feel secure and comfortable. When they suck on a pacifier, they are effectively self-soothing, which can help them to feel more relaxed and content. In addition, the rhythmic nature of sucking can have a calming effect on the nervous system, making it an invaluable tool for soothing fussiness and promoting sleep. 

More Soothing Techniques To Try When Baby Is Fussy

If your baby is extra fussy, it may seem like you’ve tried everything to get them to calm down. But never fear, there are always more soothing techniques to try! Here are a few more ideas to get you started:

– Get outside.

Sometimes all a baby needs is some fresh air. Take them for a walk around the block or just sit on the porch and enjoy the sunshine together.

– Give a warm bath.

This can be especially helpful if your baby is teething or has been fussing for a long time. The warm water will help to relax their muscles and soothe their pain.

– Go for a car ride.

If nothing else seems to be working, sometimes the best solution is just to get out of the house! Go for a drive around town or take a trip to the grocery store. The movement of the car can often lull babies to sleep.

Hopefully one of these ideas will help to finally get your little one calm and content. But if not, don’t worry – there are always more options to explore!

5 S Baby

FAQs About Soothing A Fussy Baby

Q- How long does the 5 “S” system take to work?

A- The 5 “S” system is designed to work quickly, typically within minutes. However, every baby is different and some may take longer to calm down than others.-How often can I use the 5 “S” system? There is no limit to how often you can use the 5 “S” system. If your baby is fussy, you can use it as often as needed to help soothe them.

Q- Will the 5 “S” system work for all babies?

A- The 5 “S” system is designed to work for all babies. However, every baby is different and some may take longer to calm down than others.

Q- My baby is older than 5 months, will the 5 “S” system still work?

A- Yes, the 5 “S” system can still be used to soothe an older baby. However, it is important to note that babies over 5 months old may not need to be swaddled.

Q- My baby is crying and nothing seems to be working, what should I do?

A- If your baby is crying and nothing seems to be working, it’s important to remain calm. Try to take a few deep breaths and remember that this is just a phase. It will eventually pass! You can also try reaching out to a friend or family member for support.

More About Dr. Harvey Karp, M.D.

Harvey Karp, M.D., is a renowned child development and sleep expert, as well as a bestselling author. He is the creator of the 5 “S” system, which is designed to help soothe fussy babies.

Dr. Karp has also written several books on the topic of infant sleep, including The Happiest Baby on the Block. He has appeared on numerous television shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, and The Today Show.

Dr. Karp is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and the author of more than 25 scientific articles on pediatrics. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two young children. 5 S’s: How to Soothe Your Fussy Baby. 5 S’s: How to Sooth Your Newborn.”

meeting Dr. Harvey Karp
The day I got to meet Dr. Harvey Karp at the hospital where I worked as a baby nurse.

How To Use The 5 “S”s- A Recap

The 5 “S” system is a simple yet effective way to calm a fussy baby. It was created by Dr. Harvey Karp, renowned child development and sleep expert. The 5 “S” system stands for swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking.

To use the 5 “S” system, follow these five simple steps:

– Swaddle your baby in a blanket. This will help to relax their muscles and make them feel secure.

– Place your baby in the side or stomach position. This position will help to ease any gas or discomfort that they may be feeling.

– Shush your baby with a soft, calming voice. This sound will help to relax and soothe them.

– Swing your baby gently back and forth. This motion can help to lull them to sleep.

– Suck on a pacifier or your own finger. This will help to comfort and calm your baby.

If you follow these five simple steps, you should see a noticeable difference in your baby’s fussiness. Remember, every baby is different and some may take longer to calm down than others. Be patient and keep trying until you find what works for your little one.

If you have any further questions about the 5 “S” system or soothing a fussy baby, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I would be happy to help!

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