Science Proves the Soothing Power of the “5 S’s”

If you haven’t already learned the 5 S’s by heart, you may want to start memorizing them now: swaddle, side, swing, shush and suck. A new study says the 5-point soothing method  is one of the best ways to calm a baby – especially after a vaccination shot.

Pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp originally proposed the 5 S’s method in “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” He designed the system to replicate the womb environment: swaddle the baby and hold her on her side or stomach, swing her making a loud shushing sound, and let her suck on a pacifier.

Though the 5 S’s are widely celebrated amongst Karp fans, this study is the first to back up Karp’s technique with scientific evidence that it works. Researchers tested over 200 2- to 4-month-olds scheduled for their vaccinations at the doctor’s office.  The study found that babies who got the 5 S’s treatment immediately after their shots showed fewer signs of pain and cried less.

Though the study focused on babies’ reactions after vaccinations, Karp asserts that his technique works in other circumstances too.


Sadly, this magical method doesn’t work forever. After babies reach  3 months of age and grow less attached to womblike environments, the calming reflex tends to fade and the 5 S’s aren’t as effective.

Do (or did) you use the 5 S’s with your babe?