Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome

Taking care of a baby can be a most rewarding and exciting experience. However, it can also be frustrating when the baby gets fussy, especially when an end to the crying seems to be nowhere at sights. Too often, parents or other caregivers lose control and shake, jerk, or jolt a baby in an effort to stop the crying.

Most people know the dangers of hitting an infant or child. But did you know that shaking your baby is also very dangerous? Your pediatrician and the American Academy of Pediatrics want you to be aware of the dangers of shaking a baby. If you ever have felt frustrated when taking care of a fussy baby, read on to find out why shaking a baby can be deadly.

What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
What are the signs and symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome?
What do I do if my baby is shaken?
Why do babies cry?

What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken baby syndrome is a serious type of head injury that happens when an infant or toddler is severely or violently shaken. Babies are not able to fully support their heavy heads. As a result, violent and forceful shaking causes a baby’s brain to be injured. Too often, this leads to the death of a baby. It can also lead to

Shaken baby syndrome usually occurs when a parent or other caregiver shakes a baby out of anger or frustration, often because the baby will not stop crying. Shaken baby syndrome is a serious form of child abuse. Remember, it is never okay to shake a baby.

What are the signs and symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome?

When a baby is violently shaken, brain cells are destroyed and the brain cannot get enough oxygen. As a result, a victim of shaken baby syndrome may show one or all of the following signs and symptoms:

What do I do if my baby is shaken?

If you think your baby might have been injured from violent shaking, the most important step is to get medical care right away. Call your pediatrician or take your baby to the nearest emergency department. If your baby’s brain is damaged or bleeding inside from severe shaking, it will only get worse without treatment. Getting medical care right away may save your baby’s life and prevent serious health problems from developing.

Be sure to tell your pediatrician or the doctor in the emergency room if your baby was shaken. Do not let embarrassment, guilt, or fear get in the way of your baby’s health or life. Without the correct information, your pediatrician or the doctor may assume your baby has an illness. Mild symptoms of shaken baby syndrome are very similar to colic, feeding problems, and fussiness. Your baby may not get the right treatment if your doctor does not have all the facts.

Why do babies cry?

It is not always easy to figure out why babies cry. They may be hungry or overtired. They may be cold or need their diapers changed. Sometimes it seems like they cry for no reason. The following are a few ideas to try when your baby does not stop crying:

If you have tried all of these and your baby continues to cry, go back and try them again. Most babies get tired after crying for a long time and eventually will fall asleep.

When your baby cries, take a break – don’t shake!

If you have tried to calm your crying baby but nothing seems to work, it is important to stay in control of your temper. Remember, it is never okay to shake, throw, or hit your baby – and it never solves the problem! If you feel like you are getting angry and might lose control, try the following:

  • Take a deep breath and count to 10
  • Place your baby in a safe place, leave the room, and let your baby cry alone.
  • Call someone close to you for emotional support.
  • Call your pediatrician. There may be a medical reason why your baby is crying.
Be patient. Colicky and fussy babies eventually grow out of their crying phase. Keeping your baby safe is the most important thing you can do. Even if you feel frustrated, stay in control and never shake your baby.



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