2021 · Book Review · Nonfiction · Parenting

Book Review: The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

Title: The Happiest Baby on the Block
Author: Harvey Karp

Pages: 320

Genre: Non-Fiction, Parenting, Self-Help

Publication Date: May 28, 2002
Publisher: Bantam


In Dr. Karp’s book, he discusses the ways in which new parents can help soothe their newborns during the first few months of baby’s lives, even through the toughest of times.

my review

This was a book given to me when our baby was born. It was one that I did not read right away and wished that I had. Though I may not agree with everything that is written in these pages, there is something to be said in some of the techniques that Karp describes that did help my baby to be soothed.

As Karp mentioned in his book many new parents are not prepared for the amount of work it takes to have a newborn. I 100% fit into this category. None of my siblings and my husband’s sibling do not have children and even though we have friends with children, somehow the discussion of the fourth trimester never really came up. At least not to its fullest extent. My pregnancy had its tough moments, but I felt as if I was ready to tackle those sleepless nights and constant feedings. Boy, was I wrong!

I enjoyed reading about some of the ways that different cultures treat newborns and how I believe this information would’ve helped some if I had read this book earlier. I never understood that the first three months of a baby’s life is the most challenging not just for the parents, but especially for the baby. Makes perfect sense, I just never saw it that way until living through it. It also was reassuring to read about the reality of how stressful and emotional the first three months can be. Just reading about this and its normalcy made both my husband and me feel so much better.

There are 5 S’s that are meant to help soothe even the most colicky babies, which is the focus of this book. My husband and I used the swaddle, shushing, swinging, and sucking to help soothe our newborn. We didn’t really know to use the side-stomach position until later. The most effective techniques were swaddling and sucking for our baby. It was crazy to see how instantaneous our baby quieted and calmed with just being tightly swaddled (my husband was excellent at this; me? Eh, not so much) and/or offering to suck. It was also insane to me how some of the examples provided and the information shared truly reminded me of the first few months of my baby’s life. At this point (he’s 5 months), those first three months seem like a blur of being a zombie and an emotional wreck, but to read that we weren’t the only ones to go through some of the stress that my husband and I did was relieving and reassuring. Of course, there were rewarding and beautiful/loving moments during those months (and now, of course!), but it was hard to appreciate those moments, at times, due to exhaustion (and sometimes forgetting to eat 😳).

Another aspect that I enjoyed while reading was the simplicity of the text. Sometimes non-fiction reads can be bogged down with long-winded paragraphs and a plethora of information that I sometimes can’t make it very far into the text. However, with this book, the language was simple, the reading was quick, and the added illustrations added to my enjoyment.

As much as I am praising this book, there are a couple of areas that could be improved. For instance, the book assumes that every baby has a two-parent (different gender) household. Of course, we know that is not always the case and people who differ from that may find the examples provided irrelevant. In addition, the book could use a little less repetition. I enjoyed how each of the 5 S’s were explored in more detail, but after that, I found some of the information redundant.

Overall, I am happy to have read this book (even with its faults) and I’m going to invest my time in Karp’s The Happiest Toddler on the Block.

My Rating
(4 out of 5 stars)


I would recommend this book to those who are pregnant with their first child to read before baby is born.

Adorable added bonus:

My baby loved looking at the baby on the cover of this book and would coo to that baby.💕👶💕

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