5 S’s for Soothing Baby

This past Fall, CDC approved COVID 19 Vaccine for kids under 5 and you may have already gone to have your little one get that needle injection. If your baby is like mine, you’ll find our guide on how to calm the baby down using the 5Ss for soothing that you can apply when your baby is crying and can’t seem to calm down.

I have read widely on the 5Ss techniques including the book by Dr. Harvey below and other DVD training that you can find online and have also reviewed other sleep training methods including Dana Obleman’s Sleep Sense.

A crying baby takes a toll on parents, let alone one who cries persistently and seems to never sleep. New parents, and especially the mother, need sufficient sleep to recover from the over 9 months of being pregnant and the birthing process. A fussy baby, however, prevents the parent’s much-deserved rest because the baby is almost always awake and crying.

The good thing is, you can use simple methods to calm your baby’s fussiness when you understand your baby’s crying. Dr. Harvey Karpa, a renowned pediatrician in Los Angeles invented the 5 S’s technique consisting of common methods of swaddling, side-stomach, shushing, swinging, and sucking. Ensure that your baby is well-fed, her diapers are dry, well-hydrated, and not lonely before using the 5 S soothing baby technique because they need appropriate attending to besides calming your baby.

Intriguing, right? Please read on to become one of the happiest parents because of having a happy baby and can also check out more of our baby and toddler sleep guides here.

In this post, I have discussed in detail how the 5 Ss for soothing babies work to calm a fussy baby because of colic or sleeplessness.

What are 5 S’s used for?

The 5 S’s method of soothing babies is used for combating colic and sleeplessness. The two issues are the main causes of fussy newborns as they try to fit outside their mommy’s wombs.


The 5 S’s baby soothing method comes in handy for parents whose babies are unfortunate to suffer colic. Colic is usually the cause of all an infant’s fussiness, becoming a top headache for parents. Colic causes babies to cry for at least 3 hours a day and a minimum of three days a week. Besides, colic can persist for up to 3 or 4 months. We also have swings that may help with colic


The 5 S’s method of soothing babies is also effective with sleeplessness in newborns because it helps you to replicate the sensations they experienced in the womb.

Five S’s Soothing Method

The Five S’s soothing method, otherwise known as the ‘Happiest Baby’ method is a strategy of calming a fussy baby through re-creating the noises, movements, and the snug environment of the womb. The five S’s of the Five S’s method stand for Swaddle, Side or Stomach Position, Shush, Swing, and Suck.

 Below are the definitions of each  S, why it works, and how to do it.

The first S: Swaddle

first S - 5 swadding positions

Swaddling is wrapping your crying or fussy baby snugly with their arms and their sides in a thin blanket. You can also swaddle your baby with their arms but Karp, the pediatrician behind the Five S’s method recommends wrapping your infant’s arms in the blanket.

Swaddling soothes your fussy baby by providing them the secure feeling they felt in their mother’s womb. According to Dr. Harvey Karp, the world is too big for newborns compared to the womb, making swaddling or cuddling a calming approach. Swaddling also promotes better sleep because it minimizes the likelihood of babies waking themselves up through the Moro Reflex (startling at sudden sounds or movements and flailing their little arms).

But how do you swaddle a baby? Below is a summary of the swaddling process.

  • Lay your baby on a soft baby fabric that you have already folded into a diamond shape
  • Fold one side of the fabric over the baby and tuck it under their arm.
  • Lift the bottom part of the swaddling fabric and tuck it in
  • Finally, fold the second side of the swaddling fabric and tuck its end to the fabric wrapped around your baby’s back

We have a detailed guide on how to swaddle a newborn.

Important to note when swaddling a baby

  • Leave two fingers of space between the swaddling fabric and the baby’s chests  to allow wiggling for comfort
  •  Be careful to avoid tight swaddling around the hips and legs of your baby to avoid tampering with hip development.
  • Do not use too many warm layers under your baby’s waddle to avoid discomfort from overheating.
  •  Do not swaddle your baby when they can roll on their stomach to avoid fatal falls

Watch the video below to learn how to swaddle your baby for better sleep.

The 2nd S: Side or Stomach Position

The 2nd S: Side or Stomach Position

The Second S of the 5 Ss, the Side or the Stomach position calms a fussy baby because it activates a calming mechanism that soothes their rattled system. Dr. Harvey Karp explains that holding a baby on their side or tummy, laying over your shoulder, laying them across your forearm with your hand supporting their wiggling head will activate their calming system.

Note. The Side and the Stomach positions are only for soothing your infant. Put your child on his back when he falls asleep to minimize the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The 3rd S: Shush

Making shush sounds to babies means copying shhh sounds that they used to hear when in the womb. The shh sounds include the pumping of your blood circulation, the rhythmic in and out of your breathing, the rumble of your digestive system, and the drone of outside noise.

It may sound crazy, but reciprocating the shh sounds will uphold your sanity. Control your in and out-breath sounds to modify your baby’s heartbeat (entertainment) and improve their sleep patterns.

Below are tips for conducting an effective shushing technique:

  • Put your mouth close to your baby’s ear  (2 to 4 inches from the baby’s ear) depending on the fussiness. The fussier the baby is, the closer your mouth should be to the baby’s ear.
  • The volume of your shushing should match the volume of your baby’s cry or level of fussiness. The more fussy or loud a baby is, the louder your shushing should be.
  • Shush as long as your baby cries or is fussy.

Watch a shush video below to learn the magic of this baby soothing technique;

The 4th S: Swing

Rocking your child back and forth is a sure way of calming your fussy baby. Scientific research has shown that carrying crying babies around stops all their voluntary movements and crying and crying immediately and decreases their heart rate. Adding a choreographed swinging increases the calming effect.

To swing a baby, support your baby’s head and neck and then sway back and forth about an inch with a slight touch of bouncing.


  • Your rocking speeds depend on the fussiness of your baby. Rock slowly

for a baby that’s calm and only needs to fall asleep. Rock fast for a yelling child.

  • Give your arms rest by settling them in a swing when the baby calms down
  • Never shake your baby while swinging them to prevent brain damage and death.

Click here to watch how to swing a baby.

The 5th S: Suck

The final strategy of calming a fussy baby is sucking. Research has shown that children usually suck for comfort because it releases sleep-inducing hormones. Offer your baby a well-fitting pacifier after feeding to comfort her to sleep.

To give your baby a perfect suck;

  • Allow your baby to hold the pacifier by themselves.
  • You can offer your baby your clean pinky to suck if you don’t have a pacifier and every other effort to calm the baby has failed. The pad of your finger should be upturned against the roof of your mouth.


About Dr. Harvey Karp who came up with 5 S’s

Dr. Harvey Karp demonstrating how to soothe a baby via the side position

Dr.Harvey Karp, a pediatrician came up with the 5 S’s baby soothing technique by arranging five common methods that mothers use often to calm their fussy babies. Dr. Harvey Karp is a renowned pediatrician in America, having practiced for over 25 years in Los Angeles. Dr. Harvey’s professionalism and passion in baby matters have popularized the 5 S techniques which he calls the “Happiest Baby ” method. 

Dr. Harvey Karp is the co-founder of Happiest Baby, the company behind Snoo Bassinet. You can learn more about him here and can also check out some of his books that are available on Amazon here.

Below is his most popular book with an average rating of 4.7/5 by over 3,400 readers;

The Happiest Baby on the Block; Fully Revised and Updated Second Edition: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer

$13.99  in stock
as of September 8, 2023 3:04 pm


Release Date2015-10-06T00:00:00.000Z
EditionRevised, Updated
Number Of Pages329
Publication Date2015-10-06T00:00:00.000Z
FormatKindle eBook

What if 5 S’s are not working?

Your baby may remain cranky even after completing all the 5 Ss which could be very much frustrating because you are also fussy because of the baby’s constant crying. There is a positive, however. It is likely that you have not done the 5 Ss method correctly, your baby is wet, hungry, lonely, or is struggling to make a poop, or it indicates that your baby needs a visit to the pediatrician immediately.  

Check to ensure that the baby is well-fed, is not lonely, and does not have an upset stomach. Repeat the 5 S soothing process. If it fails, please visit your baby’s pediatrician for a check-up.