Shush, Swaddle, Sway- the Keys to Soothing after Shots

A long car ride, the vibrations of a running dryer, the low hum of a mother’s voice – the list of how to soothe a crying newborn is endless and as unique to each child as his tiny, precious fingerprints. 

But the “5 S’s” promise to be successful even after baby experiences physical pain, like from the prick of a vaccination needle. A recent study by John Harrington, of Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va., explored whether techniques used to calm a fussy baby would work to soothe physical pain as well.

The “5 S’s” are staples in everyday soothing for most parents:

  • Swaddling
  • Putting baby on her stomach
  • Gently swinging or swaying
  • Shushing into her ear
  • Sucking on a pacifier

The technique was developed by Los Angeles pediatrician Harvey Karp. Karp determined that simulating the womb was the most soothing experience for a newborn in pain or distress.

In the new study, Harrington learned that out of 230 infants, those who received the specific “5 S’s” stopped crying sooner after vaccinations and had significantly less pain scores than infants who received comfort care from parents.

The results of the study were published in the journal “Pediatrics” and can be found online at