Moms everywhere are singing the praises of Dr. Harvey Karp's so-called 5 S's of infant sleep. Dr. Karp is a pediatrician who noticed that soothing babies is somewhat of a scientific process that can be followed step by step. He wrote down his plan for helping babies sleep in his book, The Happiest Baby on the Block.
Karp's main premise is that a baby needs the womb environment recreated during the first three months, also known as the "fourth trimester". During the "fourth trimester", babies cry to communicate their needs. After mom checks to see if her little one is hungry, cold, hot, wet, tired, or lonely, he might continue to cry. At this point, she should the 5 S's into action. They are:
Swaddle: Wrap the baby up tightly, and continue to try if he protests, which is normal
Side/Stomach: Lay him on his side or stomach (remembering that this is not for sleep...babies should be placed to sleep on their backs always)
Shush: Shush or play white noise, or even run the vacuum
Swing: Swing or bounce him (do not shake, be aware of Shaken Baby Syndrome)
Suck: let him nurse, or offer a pacifier or even a pinky finger
Beyond these main points, Karp has some tips on reading babies' body language. He also goes further into the specific ways the 5 S's should be implemented to be most effective. He has created videos for those who want to see them in action. It would be best to read Karp's book while pregnant, but it's also helpful later if you realize you have an inconsolable crier. Dr. Karp has even created a robotic bed he calls the Snoo, which can sense the baby's crying and will put the 5 S's into action. Sounds like a dream, but we'll have to see if a machine can do what a mother can.
Truly, the 5 S's have been done throughout history and many women do them instinctively. Even so, we've had a societal shift away from traditional newborn care, and it may be time to shift back. It looks like we now have the science to prove that the 'old way' is the best!