The Atlantic

Parenting Looks Nothing Like What the Experts Say

Everyone’s winging it, but that’s not a bad thing.
Source: Thanasis Zovoilis / Getty

Harvey Karp makes soothing babies look like a cinch. In the video that accompanies his best-selling book The Happiest Baby on the Block, he holds one screaming infant after another, deftly rolls them on their side, and bam!—the crying stops. “Side position” is just one of the techniques to calm a baby in Karp’s repertoire. He also uses swaddling, shushing, swinging, and sucking. Bleary-eyed parents ooh and aah over how Karp can instantly activate a baby’s calming reflex, or “automatic shut-off switch,” using his trademark “five S’s.”

However, Karp himself has never raised an infant. I imagine if he had, he’d be intimately familiar with the sixth S: straight out of luck.

I discovered the sixth S shortly after having my daughter nine years ago. A childbirth injury had

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