The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.

Rate: 4/5

Medium: Audiobook/Book

Overview (Spoilers Abound)

With this review of The Happiest Baby on the Block, cue the slew of baby books bound to make an appearance on The Critiquing Chemist. As I’m now roughly a week from my due date I should have likely made more time for these relevant reads earlier, but when making the choice between a fantasy/sci-fi book from the TBR pile or finally pick up one of these educational reads, the choice was easy. Hint, the baby book was never option number one. 

The Happiest Baby on the Block was by far the most recommended book by friends, family, and coworkers. Luke and I both have not really been around babies much in our lives, except for my niece and nephew who are 5 and 2, respectively. Needless to say, we have a lot to learn and even that admission might be an understatement. We have the physical book but chose to listen to the audiobook on our long drives to the farm so that we were able to listen together.

The Happiest Baby on the Block did a great job distilling general knowledge in a manner easily absorbed, especially in the early part of the book where Karp dismantles many myths surrounding colicky babies. It was in these initial chapters that Karp sets the stage to make the case for his 5 ‘S’ approach to calming babies. Luke and I finished the book ready to buy into his system and in general feeling more prepared for Baby O’s arrival. Well, perhaps I should clarify that we feel as though we have more tools to try in our crying baby arsenal than before we started this read. 

One of my favorite parts of this book is the scientific way that Karp dismantles myths, whether by discussing when premature babies hit the same milestones as full term babies or how other cultures care differently for their newborns and the resulting stats. Additionally, Karp highlights trends in our past when breastfeeding or swaddling went out of style and what caused this cultural shift. Moreover, he discusses how and why this thinking started reversing in recent decades, bringing us to current day practices.

One issue we had with The Happiest Baby on the Block was how many times Karp repeats himself. I realize the repetitive nature is likely going to be a trend in many of the educational books that are in my near future. I suspect that the biggest reason for the regular regurgitation of facts is mainly due to Karp actively encouraging his readers to jump around to the different parts of his book that they’ll need to refresh quickly upon on during a mid meltdown of their little one. Due to recognizing that his readers are likely not going to be reading through every time they pick up this book, Karp adds the important facts whenever relevant to make sure the information will have the best chance of being read at least once. 

Overall, here’s to hoping Karp is the miracle worker that his stories describe and we will be able to apply what we’ve learned in The Happiest Baby on the Block to soothing Baby O, making everyone happier in the process.


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