There’s been a Horse Whisperer, a Dog Whisperer and a Ghost Whisperer. I would like to add another to that growing list: The Baby Whisperer. He exists, he’s ready to share with you his secrets and his name is Dr. Harvey Karp.
Dr. Karp is a pediatrician in Los Angeles who has pioneered a better way of understanding and coping with babies and toddlers through his DVD and books The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block. He first came to my attention, in of all places, an IMAX theater before the premiere of 300.
The auditorium was filled with, what else, guys. Grown-up comic book nerds, tech-heads and geeks, all. Before the movie started I was introduced to some of my friend’s friends and they quickly learned that my wife was pregnant and we were getting close to the due date. The friend asked me if I had ever heard of The Happiest Baby on the Block. I hadn’t.
“Oh, you HAVE to get it. You HAVE to get the Happiest Baby on the Block. It will save your life!”
Before I could respond, another male voice called out from three rows away: “Happiest Baby? Best purchase ever!” Then another: “Saved my ass! Get it!” Then the movie started and all the baby talk subsided, replaced by Spartans and androgynous giants and gore.
When I got home I ordered The Happiest Baby on the Block. Zoe was born, and we immediately implemented Dr. Karp’s techniques. I won’t go into his methods here because they are better explained and demonstrated by the doctor himself, but suffice to say: They Work! Crying baby? Dr. Karp’s method shuts that wailing down in less than five minutes. Baby won’t sleep? Within minutes of applying the method, your kid is down for naptime. It’s actually remarkable, and I would hasten to add, the very best money we spent in those early months.
Interestingly, while the method can be and should be used by both mom and dad, we learned from others that, almost to a person, the fathers had an easier time implementing the techniques than the moms. While it’s not “aggressive” per se, there is a measure of assertion, be it through his swaddling procedure or the loudness of the sounds he suggests we make, I have found it easier for fathers to handle than mothers. Hey! Something we can do a little better! Go, us!
So, here we are, two years later and the terrible twos are in full swing. On any given day Zoe might be throwing grapes across the room, eating out of the dog food bowl, screaming for The Wonder Pets, or just causing a commotion of any kind. Of course, when she is denied the grape-tossing, dog bowl-eating or her favorite television crack, er, show, this is followed by the requisite tantrum. Enter Dr. Karp’s The Happiest Toddler on the Block. Using his new methods (one of which requires you to think of your child as a Neanderthal and talk to him or her accordingly) I’ve gotten Zoe to calm down so quickly it’s as though her tears have an on/off switch. It is truly amazing.
The Happiest Toddler on the Block does not, at first, seem to be as important or dire an addition as Happiest Baby. After all, babies are virtually alien creatures that cry for no reason and are inconsolable and make us wonder why we ever got involved with them in the first place, but, as Dr. Karp points out, with toddlers so many of us make the mistake of trying to negotiate with them as thought they are “little adults.” They most assuredly are not. As soon as you accept that they are cave people and address them as such, using Dr. Karp’s patented “Toddler-ese” language, you’ll be on your way to a quieter, more peaceful home. Both DVDs are relatively short. And both have extra features most of which are frequently asked questions, answered by Dr. Karp through demonstration.
And both are worth every single penny.