Babies or small children can suffer injury or death from severe shaking and can become victims of what is called Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). Sometimes a tired caregiver or parent cannot cope with a baby's crying or needs for attention. In frustration, without meaning to, they may shake the baby causing serious injury or death.
Children under two can be easily injured from shaking.
A small child's neck muscles aren't strong enough to fully control their head movements. When the child is shaken, the head whips back and forth slamming the brain against the skull, causing bruising, bleeding and swelling inside the brain. Throwing the child against a mattress or pillow can cause even more damage.
Half of the children who are victims of SBS die from the injuries. Other injuries include:
learning disabilities, speech problems, impaired use of arms and legs, brain damage and seizures, hearing loss, blindness, spinal injury, paralysis, and mental retardation.
Even a brief moment of shaking can cause serious and fatal injuries!
What you can do
When your baby cries it means that he/she needs something: food, a dry diaper, warm clothes, medical care, or rocking and holding. Sometimes, though, a baby just needs to cry. If you are too tired or unable to cope with the baby, letting the baby cry while you calm down is better than yelling, hitting or shaking.
- It's normal to feel upset, angry or frustrated.
- Take several deep breaths, count to 100
- Take some time to comfort yourself
- Take a shower
- Go into another room and try to listen to soft music
- Call a friend or a relative to relieve you for a while
Taking care of a baby is a challenging job but, remember, a baby doesn't cry because you're a bad parent - he/she cries because they have no other way of telling you what they need. Reach out to other people for support and encouragement. Remember that other people have experienced the same frustrations.
Shaken Baby Syndrome can be prevented. Make sure everyone who cares for your child knows the dangers of SBS and what to do if the baby cries.
Remember: Never yell at, hit, or shake a baby!!
For more information or if you need some parenting techniques call 22 4390 and register for one of our parenting classes.