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Shaken Baby Syndrome

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Inconsolable CryingRelated Topics
Colic and Crying
25 Alternatives to Shaking a Baby
Child Abuse Resources

No Shake Agreement

Shaken baby syndrome usually does not occur with as little shaking as bouncing or tossing a baby. However, erring on the side of caution by not allowing anyone to toss your baby playfully, or bounce your baby is advised.

The most common circumstances resulting in SBS happens when a baby is crying inconsolably. Parents, caregivers and family members who become angry, frustrated or enraged by the sounds of the crying may try to shake the baby in an effort to vent their frustration and stop the crying.

Understanding why babies cry is an important part of preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The cry of a baby is meant to elicit a response from the parent or caregiver.

It is baby's way of communicating his needs.

It is NOT a purposeful act on the part of the child to make you angry.

As we all know, we are only human. The cry of a baby can cut through us like a knife. This is especially true when crying lasts for an extended period of time. However, shaking a baby will never stop the baby from crying. In fact, it can cause:

Learning and behavioral problems
Blindness
Seizures
Paralysis
Cerebral Palsy
Hearing Loss
Speech Difficulties
Mental Retardation
Vegetative State
Death

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I do not know of one parent, especially a new parent who has not reached a point close to loss of control with their infant at some time. So, knowing that this WILL occur and being prepared to handle this situation is imperative. Here are some things you can do when you are getting close to your breaking point.

   -  Make sure all of the baby's basic needs (food, diapering, appropriate clothing, etc.) are met.
   -  Offer the baby a pacifier.
   -  Take the baby for a walk in a stroller or ride in a car.
   -  Walk baby around in a snuggly body carrier.
   -  Call a friend, relative, or neighbor to come over for support and/or take care of the baby while you take a break. *Many of us, as parents, see this as failure or admitting defeat. Please call. It is the most responsible thing you can do when nearing your breaking point.
   -  If all else fails, put the baby in their crib making sure they are safe, close the door, and check on them every 5 minutes or so. If you can, step outside of your home and turn off baby monitors. This way, you are not hearing the continuous cries relentlessly.
   -  If you are a child care provider and can not handle a crying baby, please let a parent know and don't be afraid to tell them that you feel you can not care for their baby. As a child care professional, your honest feedback is more appreciated.

See 25 Alternatives to Shaking a Baby for more tools.

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Shaken Baby Syndrome Symptoms:

Lethargy
Irritability
Seizures--most noticeable as rolling of eyes upward into head.
Semi-consciousness
Decreased appetite
Vomiting
Constipation
Difficulty Breathing
Dilated pupils
Blood spots/Pooling of Blood in Eyes

If a child shows any of the above symptoms, take them immediately to the nearest hospital emergency room or dial 911.

Anyone can injure a baby by shaking. However, perpetrators of causing trauma to children by shaking are most often fathers and boyfriends. The second most frequent perpetrators are Child Care Providers and Caregivers. Many times the act happens on the very first occasion a child is left in the person's care.

Ask caregivers what their plan is for times of frustration.

Inform them that you are just a phone call away and are willing to rescue them in times of crisis.

Reinforce that asking for help is no reflection of their abilities. We're all only human.

Related Topics
Colic and Crying
25 Alternatives to Shaking a Baby
Child Abuse Resources
No Shake Agreement

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Shaken Baby Syndrome