The 5 S’s – Getting your Baby to Sleep

When your baby is screaming the house down, usually due to overtiredness or simply because they just don’t want to go to sleep, how can you manage to calm the situation and let sleep takes its course? You might think it’s impossible at the time, and simply try and ride out the storm until it passes, but you might be surprised to learn about the long-held belief in a system created by a Santa Monica Paediatrician, Dr Karp.

This system is called the 5 S’s, and its belief is rooted in trying to help your baby feel safe and secure, just as they did when they were in the womb. It is thought that if you can recreate features of that time, you will help your baby feel more relaxed, calm, and enable sleep to come more naturally.

Let’s look at each of the 5 S’s in turn.


Swaddling is about touch and closeness, and if you think about it, when your baby is in the womb they are held tightly most of the time, always within touching distance, creating a supportive feeling. If you can recreate that sense of safety through holding them to you and reassuring touching, then you are successfully achieving the first of the 5 S’s.

Side position

Lying on your side is a reassuring feeling, you know yourself than when you’re feeling less than happy with things, lying on the foetal position on your side makes you feel more comfortable, and the same can be said for your baby. Placing your baby on their left hand side not only helps with digestion, but it makes them feel safer and more secure.


Making a shushing sound isn’t a fallacy, and it has roots in helping your baby feel like they did when they were in the womb. The noises your baby will have heard at that time will have been akin to a shushing sound, coming from the movement of blood through the nearby arteries, so recreating that sound will trigger feelings of safety.


During pregnancy when you are moving around and walking, your baby will have gotten used to the swinging motion whilst they were in the womb, so it’s no surprise that any movement that recreates this can help soothe your baby to sleep. Rocking, gentle swinging in your arms, and rides in the car have all been proven to help. How many times have you seen parents trying to get their baby to sleep by walking up and down the street with them in the pram, or going for a midnight ride in the car? It all works!


If your child uses a pacifier this can help, because the motion of sucking has a calming effect, actually releasing natural soothing chemicals within the brain, and in the end, promoting sleep.

So, the next time your baby is screaming the house down for no other reason than they don’t want to go to sleep, look towards the 5 S’s to soothe and calm the situation.

Photo Credit: Heidi Lynn Bell via photopin (license)

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