Many babies need two or more of the 5 S’s to settle a big upset. Moms from the !Kung culture in Africa use a mix of tight holding, rocking, nursing, and repeating, “Uhn-uhn, uhn, uhn,” over and over. In Tanzania, moms soothe crying by cuddling their babies while pretending to grind corn (vigorously bending and straightening and humming a rough noise). And in America, parents drive around their neighborhoods—hitting every pothole and speed bump they can find—soothing their baby’s upset with the loud rumble of the motor and lots of jiggly jolts.

Of course, when your baby fusses you should first check to make sure they’re not hungry, wet, or lonely. (Even if he just finished feeding, try offering a little more to eat.)

If feeding, holding, and skin-to-skin contact don’t seem to be working, the 5 S’s usually do the trick. But if they don’t help, here are some other things to consider:

  1. Does your baby have a little problem? Is your child getting too little milk, or perhaps too much? Is Baby struggling to make a poop? Fortunately, little problems like these are usually obvious and easy to resolve.

  2. Does your baby have a bigger problem? About 5 to 10% of colicky babies have a medical cause of their crying, such as food intolerance, urinary infection, or stomach acid reflux.

  3. Are you doing the 5 S’s correctly? If the S’s don’t work, 9 times out of 10 it’s either because your frantic baby needs a couple more S’s or because you need to spiff up your technique a little. So, double check that you are doing the S’s exactly right by watching the DVD.

If you've tried everything, and the fussing continues, you'll want to talk to your pediatrician.

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

View more posts tagged, crying

Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Connect with us at

Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.