Harvey Karp

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Dr. Harvey Karp

Harvey Neil Karp (born 1951) is an American pediatrician,[1] child developmentalist, children’s environmental health advocate.[2][3] He is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Karp lives in Los Angeles with his wife Nina.[4]

Karp is best known for his techniques for calming infants, promoting sleep and communicating with toddlers. The New York Times said “If there is such a person as a 'baby whisperer', it is the pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp.” [1][5]

Karp is the author of best-selling books and DVDs, The Happiest Baby on the Block, (2002, 2015), The Happiest Toddler on the Block (2004, 2008) and The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep (2012), which have been published in over 20 languages.[6]

Early life, education and career[edit]

From 1982-2005 Karp practiced pediatrics and child development, working with noted pediatrician Paul Fleiss in their office located in a converted residence on Hillhurst Ave in the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles, California.[7] He was assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine[8] from 1989-2009. He appeared as a regular contributor to the Lifetime cable television show, “Growing Up Together” from 1990-1992.[9] In 2009, he became an assistant professor of pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine.

Karp has served on the advisory boards of the Green Guide, Babycenter.com, Parents, Ser Padres, and American Baby magazines.[4]

Infant calming and sleep technique[edit]

Karp’s infant calming technique is based on recreating the essential elements of the experience of living in the womb. Human babies, according to Karp, are born less developed than other mammals. Karp calls the first three months of life the "fourth trimester". Karp hypothesizes that that all babies are born with a "calming reflex" that quickly relaxes most fussy babies when they are stimulated in a way that precisely mirror sensations that babies experience in the womb.[10]

Happiest Baby educator program[edit]

A 2011, University of Chicago survey of home visitors in Illinois reported a high level of satisfaction among parent educators teaching Happiest Baby techniques.[11]

To date, thousands have been certified to teach this program in centers across the United States and in dozens of other countries,[12] including in hospitals,[13][14][15] military bases,[16][17] WIC and breastfeeding support programs,[18][19][20] home visiting programs,[11][21][22][23] initiatives to prevent postpartum depression,[24] and child abuse prevention programs.[11][25][26][27]


CBS news reports that "Critics say Karp is riding to fame on the strength of his patients' VIP parents, who include Michelle Pfeiffer, Pierce Brosnan and Madonna. Endorsements from several stars appear on his book jacket and video cover."[28] Some doctors have also expressed concern that babies may accidentally be left to sleep face down, a position which increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Karp explicitly warns parents not to leave babies in this position.[29] Frenken has argued against Karp’s recommendation of the use of tight swaddling and the concept of a "calming reflex": The effect of swaddling is not based on reflexes: First a releasing stimulus is missing, because swaddling most probably works by the decrease of proprioceptive and tactile stimulation. Secondly, the reflex response is missing, because any reflex always consists of a movement released by muscles. [30] The child does not move but falls asleep by swaddling. Additionally, no known reflex alters the state of consciousness, but swaddling obviously does. No aspect of Karp's calming techniques concerning the psychological or physical consequences on babies has ever been tested scientifically.


  1. ^ a b Staff, N. P. R. "Dr. Karp On Parenting And The Science Of Sleep". NPR.org. Retrieved 2015-10-09. 
  2. ^ "Dr. Harvey Karp - Our Board of Directors | Healthy Child Healthy World". Healthy Child Healthy World. https://plus.google.com/108655790760896805775. Retrieved 2015-10-09.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Board Members". EWG. Retrieved 2015-10-09. 
  4. ^ a b "January Guest Speaker: Dr. Harvey Karp (2013)". Early Childhood and Youth Development. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  5. ^ Parker-pope, Tara (2008-02-05). "Coping With the Caveman in the Crib". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-09. 
  6. ^ "Amazon.com: harvey karp". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 2015-10-09. 
  7. ^ Gordon, Jay. "Remembering Dr. Paul Fleiss: 5 Decades in Pediatrics". Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "The Baby Whisperer - UCLA Magazine". UCLA Magazine. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  9. ^ "Growing Up Together". ProductionBeast. 
  10. ^ Karp H, The “fourth trimester”: A framework and strategy for understanding and resolving colic, Contemporary Peds 2001;21:92-114
  11. ^ a b c https://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/Building%20a%20System%20of%20Support_03_16_11%20.pdf
  12. ^ "The Happiest Baby Educator Certification". thehappiestbaby.org. 
  13. ^ https://www.stlukesonline.org/communities-and-locations/classes-and-events/the-happiest-baby-on-the-block-boise
  14. ^ "Kohl's Happiest Baby on the Block - Children's Hospital New Orleans". www.chnola.org. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  15. ^ "Happiest Baby on the Block Class | Baptist Health | Jacksonville, FL". www.baptistjax.com. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  16. ^ http://static.dvidshub.net/media/pubs/pdf_1843.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.dcmilitary.com/article/20140613/NEWS10/140619917/calm-baby-happy-parents
  18. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Health. Cries to Smiles. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Department of Health, Breastfeeding Awareness and Support Group; 2007
  19. ^ "Welcome! / Home / QUINCY WIC PROGRAM". www.quincywic.org. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  20. ^ "Women, Infants & Children (WIC)". www.portal.state.pa.us. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  21. ^ "Home Visitation « FAMILY, Inc". www.familyia.org. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  22. ^ "Norwalk Reflector:". Norwalk Reflector. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  23. ^ "Baby Calming Techniques". www.hpsfl.org. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  24. ^ Johannes B, Menei L. Calming Techniques Ease Mother’s Minds. Spectrum Nursing Magazine, Mar 28, 2007
  25. ^ National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions. Children's Hospitals at the Frontlines: The Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Alexandria, VA: National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions; 2007:9-10
  26. ^ "Prevent Child Abuse Illinois". Prevent Child Abuse Illinois. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  27. ^ "happiest baby". www.idahochildrenstrustfund.org. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  28. ^ AP (2002-10-21), Can This Man Keep Your Baby Quiet?, CBS News, retrieved 23 October 2008 
  29. ^ Falcon, Mike; Shoop, Stephen A. (2002-09-09). ""Happy baby doctor" calms colic crying". USA Today. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  30. ^ Frenken, Ralph (2011). Psychology and history of swaddling: Part two – The abolishment of swaddling from the 16th century until today. In: The Journal of Psychohistory, 39 (3), p. 219-245.

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