The 10 Most Influential People In Family Life Today

They impact everything from the food our children eat in school to the movies that our families watch to the way moms confide in each other.
Feb 06, 2013

Feb 06, 2013

2. Harvey Karp

For millions, this pediatrician and UCLA professor is a lifesaver. His book and DVD series The Happiest Baby on the Block helps new parents accomplish one crucial, yet often elusive, thing: get their infants to sleep longer at night. No wonder the book is published in 20 languages and often tops Amazon’s best-selling parenting titles.

Dr. Karp’s simple methods are taught everywhere — from neonatal wards to prisons. His lofty goal is to make the world a better place through sleep. “Crying babies make for exhausted parents, and exhaustion is a trigger for marital conflict, shaken baby syndrome, and postpartum depression,” he says. “We are all working toward better human relations. And it starts in your family.”

 

Short & Sweet: 3 Answers From Dr. Harvey Karp on Crying Babies

P&C: Are parents today crying too much over spilt milk? That is — over crying babies?

Karp: Crying babies and exhausted parents are primary triggers for marital conflict, shaken baby syndrome, postpartum depression, breastfeeding failure, over-treatment of babies with medication, maternal smoking, maternal car accidents, and maternal overeating.

 

P&C: How does calming a baby alter one’s parenting experience in the long run?

Karp: In so many ways, having a baby is a pivotal time in your life . . . it is a time in which you suddenly re-evaluate your life and can change. There is an opportunity to allow parents to feel successful, competent, and confident, which makes them want to be with the child. On the other hand, if parents feels incompetent and exhausted, then they want to escape. Men are very often the best baby-calmers in the family. Swaddling is kind of an engineering job. It allows fathers to be much more participatory in the relationship.

 

P&C: What unique challenges do parents face today?

Karp: Parents have terribly flawed expectations. They think that they are supposed to do it all. The whole idea of a nuclear family: It’s a myth. Also, toddlers don’t expect to be in a house or an apartment all day; they expect to be outside all day long. The 3-year-old is running after the 4-year-old who is running after the dog who is running after the chicken.

 

This interview has been edited and condensed.

 

 

Also check out what's safe for babies to sleep with.

 

 

NEXT: Steve Jobs

PREVIOUS: Moms

Raising Kids