Normal Limits

"Chance is the very guide of life"

"In practical medicine the facts are far too few for them to enter into the calculus of probabilities... in applied medicine we are always concerned with the individual" -- S. D. Poisson

November 03, 2005

Dr. Harvey Karp - Happiest Baby/Toddler on the Block

There was a lecture at the UMHS today by Dr. Harvey Karp on how to calm babies and how to communicate with toddlers.

I read his books while on my pediatrics rotation. He is impressive in his claims and his use of scientific reasoning. In particular at his talk today he gave a number of research literature references from prominent pediatrics journals. In time I will get to review these papers. For now, I will say that the one idea I did not like in The Happiest Toddler on the Block is the invocation of "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny", which has been shown to be--at least in the original form proposed by Haeckel--false.

Overall however I like his ideas, particularly regarding calming babies. He places our current practice of parenting in the historical context of American medicine and compares against parenting in other cultures--some of which have no concept of infant colic. He also makes a good argument that being able to effectively calm babies is crucial for the health of the baby and the mother (in terms of shaken-baby syndrome, post-partum depression, martital discord, etc). I actually tried some of his techniques during my pediatrics rotation, without much success. Today during the talk however a baby sitting in the back would not stop crying, and Dr. Karp demonstrated--live--his "5 S's" and indeed calmed the baby down in seconds. These techniques were similarly effective in the DVD clips he showed during the talk. Impressive.

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