August 17, 2022


  • Pediatrician Harvey Karp wrote “the happiest kid on the block” and created Snoo.
  • It was driven by an anthropological mystery: Why do babies cry so much?
  • Karp thinks we’ve made a lot of progress in sleep, but there’s still more work to be done.

When Harvey Karp was in medical school, he thought he wanted to be a cardiologist. But he could not give up working with his young patients.

“I realized it was so wonderful to work with children and young families,” Karp said. “They are so positive.”

For millions of families, Karp’s career decision was a good move. Despite not raising a baby—his stepdaughter was seven when she came into his life—Carp became the “sleep godfather” to American parents. If you’re familiar with the Five S’s — swaddle, stomach-side poses, silence, rocking, sucking — and the term “fourth trimester,” you have to thank Karp.

Twenty years after sharing his work with the world in “Happiest kid on the blockKarp, 70, said that helping infants and their parents sleep better can prevent problems such as marital discord and accidents caused by exhaustion.

“Helping people learn these things can save billions in healthcare costs and employer productivity costs related to tired parents and crying children,” Karp said.

anthropological puzzle

Early in his career, Karp became fascinated by the fact that babies cried so much. colic affects one in four American children. That didn’t make sense to Karp, especially when he learned that in some African tribes, babies cry for only minutes each day, not hours.

Something else was on his mind: “Most adults and adult doctors have realized that most of us sleep in trains, planes, cars, hammocks, and to the sounds of the ocean,” he said.

Cultures all over the world use the sound of “shhh” to silence people. People who meditate use low, oscillating sounds and jerky, stringy movements. But no one has ever explained why these experiences are universal. Carl hypothesizes that mimicry of the womb – with a low voice and movement – explains a little about human sleep and how to help babies get more of it. The five S were born.

Bringing knowledge back to society

Karp said the fiveS is not new. In past generations with large families and intergenerational life, people have just passed on this knowledge. In fact, his publisher warned against selling a lot of books now because soon people won’t need them.

“Once we give it back to society, they will learn it from their friends,” he said.

He was right and wrong about that. Last year, Merriam-Webster added “fourth trimester” to the dictionary, but “Happiest Kid on the Block” remains a bestseller.

The power of the Five Elements not only puts children to sleep, but also makes parents feel more confident and efficient. According to Karp, movie star Ashton Kutcher once told him, “Now I love when a baby cries, because I can be a magician.”

A modern touch on the 5S

In 2016, Carpe launched the Snoo Smart Sleeper. The bed imitates the five ace. It helps calm the kids and parents get an extra hour of sleep each night, Karp said. It’s advertised as an expensive children’s must-have, but for a Carp, the Snoo is a safety device.

“It helps parents prevent the tragedy and distress that occurs when you don’t use this thing,” he said.

The rates The number of sudden unexpected infant deaths is about the same since 2000. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that in 2020, 27% of cases were due to accidental suffocation and suffocation in bed — which Karp said is more common. When parents are tired and babies are unsettled. Karp conducts studies on how Snoo can reduce sudden infant death syndrome and postpartum depression, and improve brain development.

“Rhythmic stimuli are as important for young children as calories for physical development and growth,” he said.

Employers, including Under Armor, JPMorgan, and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, now offer Snoo rentals as employee benefits. Karp hopes that with more research, insurance companies and state governments will continue to make Snoo easier to access.

Carp did not forget his childhood

Even if your baby doesn’t sleep during the fourth trimester, Karp said, you’ll make it through. But the biggest challenge looms: the childhood years.

“Between 8 months and 6 years, I created a person,” he said. Sleep, calm and communication become more important. Karp doesn’t think the modern idea of ​​talking to kids through their emotions works.

“If you are mad at me,” he said, “the words are meaningless.”

Instead of naming what children are feeling, Karp said parents should use short phrases and repetition to reflect a third of their children’s feelings.

“You can’t get them out of the jungle of their feelings,” he said. “You have to go there and direct them outside.”



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