A crying baby can be distressing for parents. Is he hungry, tired, wet? It's not always easy to know how to calm your little one. So parents will be happy to learn that pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp offers real solutions. To celebrate his newest book, The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep, Karp is bringing his baby soothing methods to movie theaters nationwide for a live, one-night event.
Hosted by actress Ali Landry, the program, Parent's Night Out with The Happiest Baby and Happiest Toddler, starring Dr. Harvey Karp, takes place at Malco's Paradiso Theater on Thursday, June 21, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 and can be ordered here. We caught up with the popular pediatrician to learn more about his communication tips for parents.
For those parents who may be new to your work, your first book and DVD, The Happiest Baby on the Block, describes your soothing techniques. Yes, it's really all about mimicking characteristics that were present in the womb: gentle shushing, swaddling, sucking, side-stomach position for holding baby, and swinging. I call these the 5 Ss. Dads are often best at using these. They'll do the shushing and the swaddling. But the key is to find the right pitch of white noise. Low, rumbly sounds are more soothing than high-pitched, whiny ones. Those high-pitched sounds, like a siren or car alarm, tend to grab our attention; lower-pitched sounds, like the rumble of a train or bus, are more soothing.
In your DVD Happiest Toddler on the Block, you compare toddlers to cavemen, with their limited ability to communicate their needs beyond grunting and pointing. That makes sense. So how should we communicate with our 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds? When you talk to them, you need to speak with energy. Use gestures, and say things using repitition. We usually think we're being soothing by quietly saying "Calm down" to a 1-year-old who's upset, but that's like throwing their feelings away. It doesn't feel loving or accepting. In order to speak toddler-ease, you need to use short phrases said with some excitement. You want to mirror their emotions by about one-third.
For example, if your child is feeling frustrated and crying because he wants something he can't have, you would match his tone of voice and gestures, while saying, "I know you want that! You want it! You want it!" That message validates his feelings. Then you can follow that with your message which redirects your toddler to what you need from him. "I know you want that, but right now we have to leave. Let's go find your sister and get ready to go."
In the Happiest Toddler video, children actually do seem to calm down quickly when this technique is used. It's because we've acknowledged their feelings. We all want to be heard. You may feel a bit like a boob doing it, but if you do so consistently, you'll find you have a more cooperative and helpful child.
What is the focus of your latest book, The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep? This book is all about teaching sleep training. You can teach your baby and child how to sleep better. Research shows that getting adequate sleep is a real problem for many families. Fully one-third of children ages 1 to 5 have problems going to sleep at night. It's so important that parents set the stage for sleep at night, by shutting off TVs and computer screens, and having a bedtime routine. The room should be softly lit and quiet so children can ready their minds for sleep.
What can viewers expect when they attend the live televised event on June 21st? I'll be sharing parenting tips and tricks, as well as insights on how to better communicate with your children. I'll also be answering questions. I'm excited because this is the first-ever simulcast produced for medical or educational purposes. The 90-minute program will be taped in Nashville and simulcast to 600 theaters across the country. It promises to be an exciting evening. I hope you'll join me.