Five S For Baby

The five s for baby is a great resource to help parents keep their infant healthy, happy and safe. It contains tips on finding out if your baby is ready for solid foods, what kind of food to serve, when to introduce solid foods as well as other important information. After hours of trying to soothe your fussy baby, you’re probably wondering if there are any magic tricks out there that you don’t know about.

It just so happens that there is one bundle of tricks known as the “5 S’s.” Pediatrician Harvey Karp pioneered this method when he brought together five techniques that mothers have often used and organized them into this easy mnemonic: swaddle, side-stomach position, shush, swing, and suck.

What are the 5 S’s for? 

Despite your exhaustion and frustration, you know that your baby is crying because it’s the only way they have to tell you that they need something.

But you’ve played with your baby, fed them, burped them, checked their diaper, and made sure they aren’t in pain — so why are they still fussing? Don’t despair. It doesn’t have to be like this. Using the 5 S’s can make it easy to soothe your baby.

Here are two of the issues the method aims to combat:


About 5 to 19 percentTrusted Source of babies have that rather vague condition known as “colic.” (This is often a catch-all for fussiness, and it’s typically due to your baby getting used to their brand spankin’ new digestive system.)

If your baby is crying for 3 or more hours a day, 3 or more days a week, during the first 3 months of life, count yourself among this unlucky group. Colic usually starts at around 6 weeks and often fades by month 3 or 4, but it’s rough-going on both baby and you.


Falling asleep isn’t always easy for babies, and this is particularly so if your baby is overtired. By replicating the sensations experienced in the womb, parents can lull their babies into a long, restful sleep.

ResearchTrusted Source shows that babies who sleep on their tummies face a significantly higher risk of SIDS. So, you definitely don’t want to put your baby down to sleep on their stomachs, but you can help them get to sleep with the side-stomach position.

Step 1: Swaddle

Swaddling means wrapping up your baby to make them snug as a bug. Anecdotal reports and some dated research shows that swaddled babies sleep longer and better than unswaddled babies. Why so? Most likely, when your baby’s snug and warm, they’re dreaming of the good old days in your womb.

In addition, swaddling reduces the likelihood of babies waking themselves up with their Moro reflex — startling at sudden sounds or movement and flailing their little arms.

Take a look at this video to see how swaddling is easy peasy. Here’s the trick summarized:

  • Lay your baby on a piece of soft fabric that’s been folded into a diamond shape.
  • Fold one side of the fabric over and tuck it under their arm.
  • Lift up the bottom and tuck it in.
  • Fold over the second side and tuck the end into the fabric wrapped round your baby’s back.
  • Optimal but recommended: Give them a kiss and a hug.

Tips for the perfect swaddle:

  • Leave two fingers of space between the swaddling fabric and your baby’s chest for wiggle room.
  • Watch out for tight swaddling around the hips and legs that could cause hip development issues.
  • Avoid bundling your baby with too many warm layers under the swaddle.
  • Stop swaddling when your baby can roll onto their stomach.

Step 2: Side-stomach position

ResearchTrusted Source shows that babies who sleep on their tummies sleep longer and don’t react as quickly to noise. One big problem, though: Putting a baby to sleep on their stomach or side is dangerous, as it increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

According to Karp, holding babies in a supine position activates a calming mechanism that soothes their rattled system (and yours).

So go ahead — hold your baby on their tummy or side; lay them over your shoulder; or lay them across your forearm with your hand supporting their head.

But remember: When your baby has calmed down, place them on their back for sleep time.

Tips for the perfect side-stomach position:

  • Put your bare baby on your chest with skin-to-skin contact for great bonding time. A 2020 study shows that even very preemie babies (30 weeks at birth) are calmed by this contact.
  • When your baby reaches 6 months old, they’ll most likely be able to flip themselves over, but it’s still best to play safe, abide by the rules, and keep putting them to sleep on their backs until they’re 1 year old.

Step 3: Shush

You know what shush means, but does your baby? You bet! Contrary to what you might think, your baby heard plenty of muffled sounds while in your womb including:

  • the pumping of your blood circulation
  • the rhythmic in and out of your breathing
  • the rumble of your digestive system
  • the drone of outside noises

When you make a loud shhh sound, you get pretty close to the blended sounds that your baby is used to. But there’s actually more to it.

Research shows that controlled in-and-out breath sounds can alter a baby’s heartbeat and improve their sleep patterns. That’s because we’re programmed to fall in sync with an external rhythm. Science calls this “entrainment.” Moms call it a miracle that saves their sanity.

Tips for the perfect shushing technique:

  • Don’t turn down the volume — your baby will probably soothe fastest if you shush loud and long. Think of how the sound of a vacuum cleaner can calm an infant. Unbelievable, right?
  • Put your mouth close to your baby’s ear so that the sound enters directly.
  • Match the volume of your shushing to the volume of your baby’s cry. As they begin to settle, turn your shushing down.

Step 4: Swing

Who hasn’t pushed a fussy infant’s carriage back and forth a million times harboring the hope that they’ll fall sleep?

You’re right — movement is a great way to calm a fussy baby. In fact, 2014 research in both animals and humans showed that crying babies who are carried around by mom immediately stop all voluntary movements and crying. In addition, their heart rate decreased. Add in some choreographed swinging and you have one happy baby.

How to swing:

  • Start off by supporting your baby’s head and neck.
  • Sway back and forth about an inch and add a touch of bounce.

By keeping your baby facing you and smiling, you can turn these moments into a bonding experience as well as teach your baby how to focus and how to communicate.

Tips for the perfect swing:

  • Rock slowly for a baby who’s already calm and just needs to be sent to dreamland, but use a faster pace for a baby who’s already yelling.
  • Keep your movements small.
  • Once your baby’s calm, you can give your arms a rest by settling them in a swing. (Just never leave them unattended in a swing.)
  • Never, ever, shake your baby. Shaking can lead to brain damage and even death.

Step 5: Suck

Sucking is one of the primitive reflexes that your baby has. Having started practicing in your womb as a 14-week-old embryo, your baby is already a pro at sucking. (Plenty of babies have been caught in the act by ultrasound imaging.)

While sucking for calming may be a no-brainer, researchers in a 2020 study actually set out to prove it. When you encourage your baby to suck for comfort, know that you’re backed by hard facts: Babies enjoy sucking and are calmed by sucking even without feeding. It’s called non-nutritive sucking.

While you could let your baby suckle at your breast, for a little more freedom, you may want to use a pacifier. Keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) generally recommends holding back a pacifier until you and your baby have a nice breastfeeding routine — at around 3 or 4 weeks of age.

A crying baby is no fun. If you’re concerned that your baby’s crying can’t be put down to normal crankiness, discuss your concerns with your pediatrician.

Incessant crying wears away at the fabric of the family. As you practice these five steps and learn what works best with your baby, you’ll be able to add your individual twist to them.

Nothing can really prepare you for parenthood, but you try your best to get ready for the arrival of a new family member. What do you need? What does the baby need? Where do you start? One of the best ways to answer these questions is by using the 5S technique.

Here’s how to 5S a nursery, the latest in our How to Apply 5S series.

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Step 1: Sort Your Nursery

Our nursery turned into a storage room after our first son started spending most of his time with us in our bedroom. We kept unpacked boxes and outgrown clothes in this room. In the Sorting phase, I removed what the new baby would not need or use. I also sorted all the outgrown baby clothes by their size to save time digging through the drawers later. I placed everything we didn’t need in the nursery in its proper room, donated it or threw it away.

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Step 2: Set Your Nursery In Order

In the Set In Order phase, I removed all the unpacked boxes and clothes that belonged to either me or my husband. I organized the furniture according to what the baby would need. I used shelves and organizing bins for baby toys, breast pump parts, pacifiers and books. I filled drawers with newborn clothes and the changing table with diaper needs. I placed baby clothes that I wasn’t going to use immediately in bins labeled by size.

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Step 3: Make Your Nursery Shine

For the Shine phase, I dusted the baby furniture and organizing bins, washed the crib sheets and vacuumed the carpet. Almost ready for the new baby!

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Step 4: Standardize Your Nursery

For the Standardize phase we focused on placing items where we would need them once the baby arrived. For example, I placed diapering needs such as wipes, baby powder, diaper rash cream and diapers at the changing table. This would make it easy to find what we needed while the little one lay on the changing pad. The diaper storage was made of mesh so I could easily see if the diapers needed to be refilled. The nursery was becoming a visual workplace!

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Step 5: Sustain Your Nursery Improvements

Since we will spend most of the first few months in the nursery, we will need to sustain and maintain the organization of the nursery. Newborns and infants grow so fast, you don’t want to miss important moments because you can’t find a onesie that fits or a bib for that accidental spit up.

For the Sustain phase, my husband and I agreed on a schedule of cleaning, how often we’d change the sheets and when to buy baby supplies. A handy checklist makes it easy. By preparing the room, we get to make the most of every minute with our new child — it’s a great way to make these moments last!

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What Are The Five S’s For Newborns

All newborns go through a series of five s’s during their first weeks of life. The five s’s are: Swaddling, Sucking, Skin-to-skin contact (also known as kangaroo care), Sucking, and Sleep. These actions create an environment that enables babies to be calm, safe and secure in this new world.

The five S’s of newborn care are: Swaddling, Side-Lying, Skin-to-Skin Contact, Sucking and Swinging. These methods help calm a fussy newborn and speed up his or her development. Swaddling holds baby in the natural posture for easier breathing and better sleep. Side-lying makes baby feel more relaxed and gives you the opportunity to soothe without disturbing baby’s sleep. Skin-to-Skin contact means holding your naked baby against your bare chest for 10 minutes or more for maximum benefits. Sucking provides comfort as an essential element in bonding between mother and child. Swinging helps prevent gas, promotes healthy digestion and calms baby.

These techniques can allow parents to have a happier and healthier Fourth Trimester. Crying babies trigger their parents’ fight or flight response, releasing adrenaline and cortisol into their body. Extended periods of stress can cause serious declines in parental mental health. This is why having reliable settling techniques is so important. 

If you’ve been having trouble establishing a great settling technique, read on to see if the Five S’s could be exactly what you need.

1 – Swaddle

The aim of swaddling is to give your baby a sense of security. When they were in the womb, they didn’t have much space around them. Any spare space was filled with cosy amniotic fluid which insulated and comforted them. Suddenly they’re born into a world with endless empty space around them. The snug blanket helps to make the world feel less vast and cold.

Tips for a safe swaddle: 

  • Always choose the lightest blanket available to avoid overheating. 
  • Limit the number of layers your baby wears under their swaddle. Depending on the room temperature, your baby could just wear their nappy under the swaddle. 
  • Check that you can fit 2-3 fingers between your baby’s swaddle and their chest. This is snug but not too tight. 
  • Only swaddle as far as their collarbone. This gives them plenty of space to breathe. A swaddle should not come up to their chin or higher.
  • Stop swaddling for sleep as soon as your baby shows signs of rolling over. A swaddled baby who rolls onto their front can find it hard to breathe. 
  • Don’t wrap their legs tightly to avoid any issues with their hips.

Check out this handy infographic from Pampers’ article “How to Swaddle Your Baby


2- Side/Stomach Position

Babies should never be placed on their side or stomach for sleep. However, they can be held on their stomach or side whilst being held for extra comfort. You can lie your baby along your arm while supporting their head with your hand to soothe them. Or, you can place them on your chest.

Tips for safe side/stomach position:

  • Always ensure your baby’s airways are not obstructed when holding them in different positions. Think of your baby’s airways as a plastic straw – nothing can pass through if it’s bent. 
  • Once your baby is settled or sleeping, place them on their back to sleep. 
  • If you feel like you could fall asleep, put your baby in their safe sleep space. Never sleep while holding your baby in any position as you risk dropping them. 
  • Take your time while trying to find a comfortable position that soothes your baby. If you’re feeling stressed you may be more likely to move your baby with jerky movements, which can inadvertently injure them.

3- Shush

Tell your baby to shush! When your baby was in the womb, they heard constant sounds from your body such as your blood circulating and your digestive system working. Inside the womb can be as loud as 96dB (about as loud as a lawnmower!) so your baby can be quite unsettled by silence. 

To shush your baby, simply say “shhh” loudly for as long as you can, then take a deep breath, and “shhh” again! Start by matching the volume of their crying, then lower your volume as they start to calm down. This long, single-frequency sound is a great replacement for the noise they grew to love in the womb.

how to calm a baby

4- Swing

During your pregnancy, you may have noticed that your baby kicked much less when you were active. This is because they were soothed by the rocking created by your movements. Swinging your baby is as simple as holding them (paying special attention to supporting their head and neck) and swaying back and forth. Keep your movements small, smooth and gentle. Pay attention to any tension you may be holding in your body, tension can lead to jerky, shaky movements which are dangerous for your baby.


Sucking is your baby’s strongest instinct and they’ve been perfecting it since week 14 of gestation. It helps them to feel safe and secure. This is why using a soother (pacifier, dummy, whatever you like to call it) is effective. Soothers also have the benefit of lowering your baby’s risk of SIDS. 

Some parents avoid soothers as they’re concerned about nipple confusion interfering with breastfeeding. However, the concept of nipple confusion is widely debated. Babies may grow to prefer a bottle teet rather than their mother’s nipple because the bottle’s flow is constant and quick, whereas their mother’s nipple can be more intermittent and slower. A soother is a form of non-nutritive sucking (not for nutrition) so it’s unlikely to ever be preferred in comparison to actual feeding.

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