There's been a baby boomlet in my life, as several young friends have recently given birth; I've been making the acquaintance of newborns. It has been blissful. There is nothing like the smell of babies' heads, unless it is the tight reflexive grip of their tiny fingers, or the perfection of their toes, or the way they curl like tiny marsupials around the limb of an adult arm, or the way they grunt and squeal and slurp and slobber through feedings. Babies hide nothing, but they can be mysterious and hard to understand, perhaps because we have forgotten so much about the time when we were babies.
Well, all this new baby business has brought a new doctor into my life. That would be the estimable Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block. I had to do a crash course in new baby life so that I could be of some use to my exhausted new parent friends. My skills are rather rusty, and dated.
As it happens, the best baby techniques these days seem to be as ancient as civilization. I love Karp's formulation of a fourth trimester, the idea being that babies are born needing another three months gestational time ex utero. To give them the most soothing environment you must replicate what they've left behind as closely as possible--short of having them live underwater in the tub. So I remastered swaddling techniques, learned about Shhhh-ing loudly--their ear drums are not yet fully developed, so they don't hear so well--helped them find their pacifiers so they could practice sucking, and got into swinging, as they love that motion. Karp's techniques involve several S mantras...very useful handles for aging or exhausted brains.
Anyone who expects to be around newborns (and I hope to see many more in my future, hint hint) ought to get acquainted with Dr. Karp. His book is a must for every auntie or uncle, grandmother or grandfather, sister, or friend. Frankly, I loved reading it just to try to remember what it felt like to be a baby....but I'm strange that way. Karp's tone is authoritative but friendly and reassuring; you feel like you've met a wonderful new friend just reading the book.
Next perhaps he will address the S mantras for new parents: Sleeplessness; Speed-eating; Slippage of Sanity; Shell Shock; Skewed Reason; Slow Brain. Etc.
But most of all Slow Love! I wish I had had his book when I had my babies. They probably wish so too.