Having a baby can be challenging whoever you are. That’s the message from top Los Angeles paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp who counts Madonna, Pierce Brosnan, Kate Hudson and Chrissy Teigen among his fans.
While some have consulted the doctor directly, others are grateful advocates for his SNOO Smart Sleeper, a “smart” crib that helps babies sleep. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis say the bassinet changed their lives after the birth of their son Dimitri, while actress Teresa Palmer says she’s “seriously obsessed”.
Harvey, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, says having a baby is a great equaliser and celebrities arguably suffer more than most. “We all have to change nappies, their baby poops are just as smelly as our baby poops,” he says. “They have helpers so that’s a benefit, but it’s harder for them to go out in the community and meet their friends at the coffee shop without being swarmed with photographers.”
Here he shares some of his tips for making the baby days a little easier.
Q: Controlled crying is such an issue for new parents. Your thoughts?
Today’s parents are the most educated in history but they’re the least experienced when it comes to babies. They’re vulnerable
to all the chatty advice they’re getting from the internet or friends and they think you need to make your baby independent. But that’s not something you worry about in the first six months – that time is to build trust, security and confidence.
Q: Why are some children extremely attached and anxious as toddlers?
Often it’s a good thing because it means the child has great confidence in their caregiver. There are some kids that walk away from you in a crowded mall and others that hang on the hem of your dress. That cautious personality they’re born with is not necessarily a bad thing – those are the ones who aren’t going to gamble away all their money or get injured on a motorbike!
Q: You write about how to talk to a toddler …
You need to build confidence, patience and delayed gratification and there’s a technique which will see an improvement in their behaviour. They need security and they need you to respond to them, and the more you respond, the more quickly you respond, the more appropriately you respond, the more they go: “This is a cool place, it just all works out for me”, and then you have it, for the rest of your life.
Q: You talk about a “fourth trimester”…
Yes, there’s three trimesters in the womb then a fourth where you are one big walking uterus for the first few months of your child’s life. You hold them a lot, you rock them and even if you do that 12 hours a day, from the baby’s point of view, that’s terrible because you used to do
it 24 hours a day.
Q: Tell us about sleeping with white noise.
Babies have to have white noise to sleep because it’s reassuring. So many people ask why their baby isn’t sleeping and it’s because you took away everything that used to help them sleep. Being on their back is weird, being in silence is weird, not having motion is weird, being open to the world is weird. The SNOO is a way of giving it back to them.