Shaken Baby Syndrome is Abuse and it is Preventable
SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME IS PREVENTABLE
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a preventable, severe form of physical child abuse resulting from violently shaking an infant by the shoulders, arms, or legs. SBS may result from both shaking alone or from shaking with impact.
Babies, newborn to one year (especially babies ages 2 to 4 months), are at greatest risk of injury from shaking. Shaking them violently can trigger a “whiplash” effect that can lead to internal injuries—including bleeding in the brain or in the eyes. Often there are no obvious external physical signs, such as bruising or bleeding, to indicate an injury.
The number one reason a child is shaken is because a parent or caregiver becomes so frustrated with a baby’s crying that they lose control and just shake them. They are usually average people, who in the heat of their frustration and anger lose control and shake their child. Most people charged with shaking their baby have no previous history of violence and the act is unintended. Read more from the CDC’s Shaken Baby Syndrome, A Preventative Tragedy.
CRYING AND COLIC ARE NORMAL | SHAKING IS DANGEROUS!
The crying…the late-night feedings…the constant changing of diapers…the resulting exhaustion… The fact is that many new parents and caregivers find themselves unprepared for the realities of caring for a baby and the stress and aggravation that can accompany those realities.
The fact is that crying—including prolonged bouts of inconsolable crying— is normal developmental behavior in babies. It helps to think of crying as one of the ways babies communicate. You can learn more about Purple Crying at purplecrying.info, and at the National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome.
First, understand that crying is a normal developmental stage. The Period of PURPLE Crying begins at about 2 weeks of age and continues until about 3-4 months of age. There are other common characteristics of this phase, or period, which are better described by the acronym PURPLE. All babies go through this period. It is during this time that some babies can cry a lot and some far less, but they all go through it.
The best thing that parents and caretakers can do is stay calm. It may sound simple, but it can be hard to do when you are tired, frazzled, and worried about your baby. Taking care of a crying infant is a lot of work, and feeling frustrated, drained, and a little desperate is a normal reaction to a hard situation. It is okay to feel those things; the trick is to not let your feelings shape how you treat your baby. Keeping your emotions in check – staying calm – is important for your own sake, but also for your baby. NEVER shake a baby!
Or, get more information and help at:
STAY CALM | LEARN TO DE-STRESS
It is important for the primary caretaker to stay calm, and try to take at least 15 minutes alone each day to do something relaxing and enjoyable. Ask your partner, family or friends to take care of the baby while you take care of yourself; it’s difficult to be calm and at your best when you are overtired and stressed.
A thirty minute brisk walk is an easy way to stay fit, get a mood boost from raised endorphin levels, and effectively reduces tension. When caretakers can walk together, they have the added benefit of nurturing their relationship, as well.
When the primary caretaker learns how to breathe deeply, become aware of how stress is held in the body, and utilizes relaxation and visualization or other mindfulness techniques on a regular basis, both caretaker and child benefit significantly: When the caretaker is more relaxed, the child’s sense of well being, trust and secure attachment to the parent is enhanced.
HOTLINE & HELPFUL PHONE NUMBERS:
In the U.S.: 24 hour Parent Helpline: 1-888-435-7553
In the U.S.: Crying Baby Hotline: 1-866-243-2229
In the U.S.: Fussy Baby Warmline: 1-888-431-BABY
In the U.S.: National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
In the U.S.: National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE
In the U.K.: Parentline: 0808 800 2222 or Lifeline: 0114 272 6575
In Australia: Parentline: 1300 30 1300
In Canada: Parent Helpline: 1-800-668-6868
Helpful video about crying babies | courtesy of purplecrying.info:
More resources for overwhelmed parents of crying/fussy babies and general parent supports:
- Purple Crying
- National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome
- Information for Dads
- Video for Dads about Crying Babies
- Mommy and Me—peer support groups for mothers
Circle of Parents—peer support for parents: