Superstar pediatrician hopes to advance his research in Israel

Dr. Harvey Karp lands in Tel Aviv with event to teach 1,000 parents to sooth their babies in sixty seconds or less.

Newborn baby (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Newborn baby
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Dr. Harvey Karp visited Israel for the first time as a teenager 50 years ago, not long after the end of the Six Day War. Landing for the second time earlier this week, the US pediatrician does not expect to be able to tour much in light of his crowded agenda.
Karp, the author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, which was released in Hebrew earlier this week, as well as The Happiest Toddler on the Block, is viewed by many as a superstar, in part due to the many celebrities who have decided to follow his advice.
In Israel, he will meet hundreds of parents on Friday to teach them his “Five S’s” method of soothing babies (swaddle, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, sucking) during the parenting conference Baby Academy organized by Shufersal and Onlife and deliver a lecture at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
In addition, Karp told The Jerusalem Post he is holding some meetings in the hope of starting some research with Israeli hospitals on his flagship creation, SNOO, an innovative and award-winning baby bed.
“We have been with babies forever, hundreds and thousands of years, so we would think that we knew everything about them,” he said. “What’s funny is that each generation tells their parents that what they did was wrong, there is a better way of doing.”
Nowadays, many people have much less experience with babies than in the past, because people don’t come from big families the way they used to, Karp said.
“Even being very well-educated can sometimes be a problem, in the sense that there is a lot that you can learn from books, but some skills need to be learned from life experience,” he said. “My job as a pediatrician is to take some if this ancient wisdom and transfer it to the current generation, and also to use science to inform parents and solve some serious problems that we have.”
To make parents feel supported and not isolated, Karp came out with the idea of a new kind of crib which could offer the babies the best situation to sooth their sleep, very much reproducing conditions in the uterus.
“We joke that more than a bed, SNOO is like an older sister who comes in to hold and rock the baby all night,” he said. “For a parent, a helper like this makes things a lot easier and allows more rest.”
The product by Karp’s company, Happiest Baby, has been on the market in the US for about three years. The cost is high, more than $1,000, but renting is also available for less than $4 a day. In December, they started selling in the UK and Europe.
According to data provided by Happiest Baby, an analysis of 7,157 babies sleeping in SNOO from birth to six months old found that they on average slept an extra hour or hour and half more per day, as compared to recent studies of normative sleep.
Moreover, with over 77,000,000 hours of babies sleeping in SNOO beds, no injury or death has been reported to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. About 3,600 babies die every year in their sleep in the US, as do 50 in Israel.
SNOO won the National Sleep Foundation’s Innovation of the Year award and was selected by the FDA for their Breakthrough Device program
“We are making improvements all the time, starting from the app where you get a daily report on your baby’s sleep,” Karp said, adding that most of the research is now focused on other aspects.
“Situations when parents are tired and stressed lead to problems such as postpartum depression, car accident, child abuse, fights, breastfeeding issues and obesity,” he told the Post. “We have already proven we help babies sleep better, the research we want to do is to see if we can help premature babies grow faster and leave the hospital earlier, reduce postpartum depression, help doctors who have babies so that they get to sleep more and make less mistakes and so on.”
“We are interested in researching all these things with Israelis institutions,” Karp said. “Here there are so many babies been born that we can study this phenomena very quickly.”