Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome

Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and Abusive Head Trauma

You know babies cry. That’s no surprise. What you may not know is how that crying may make you feel. When babies cry for a long time you may feel angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed. There are ways to cope with crying babies to minimize those feelings.

Crying is one of the ways babies communicate. They may be hungry, thirsty, tired, uncomfortable, sick, scared, or lonely. They may be teething, have gas, or need their diapers changed.

It’s normal for babies to cry. It’s even normal for babies to cry up to several hours a day. Sometimes feeding the baby, burping the baby, or changing the baby’s diaper makes the crying stop. Other times nothing you do makes the crying stop and it seems to go on forever.

It’s important to have a plan to deal with a baby’s crying. This will stop your emotions from getting out of control and possibly hurting a baby. When you can’t get a baby to stop crying:

  1. Check the baby’s physical needs.Is the baby too hot or too cold? Does the baby have a wet or dirty diaper? If
    any of these are the case, remedy the situation.
  2. Check the baby for signs of illness or fever. If you think the baby may be sick, seek medical attention.
  3. If the baby’s physical needs are met and the baby doesn’t appear to be sick, try any or all of the following
    calming techniques:​

    • Swaddle the baby
    • Use “white noise” or rhythmic sounds like a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine
    • Offer the baby a pacifier
    • Sing or talk to the baby
    • Gently swing or rock the baby
    • Put the baby in a car seat and take him/her for a ride in the car
    • Take the baby for a walk in a stroller
    • Hold the baby close and breathe calmly and slowly
    • If the baby is still crying, try one or all of the following coping techniques:
      • Call a doctor for support or medical advice
      • Call a friend or relative for support
      • Have someone come over and give you a break
      • Put the baby in a safe place like a crib, then close the door and check back when you are calm

Remember it’s OK to leave the baby in a safe place and take time to calm down. Leave the room. Shut the door. Take a few deep breaths. Then try the calming and coping techniques again.

Your plan can help prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome, which is a form of abusive head trauma and inflicted traumatic brain injury. It is preventable and a severe form of physical child abuse.

Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a baby is violently shaken. This most often happens when the person caring for the baby becomes frustrated or angry when the baby won’t stop crying.

Babies’ neck muscles aren’t strong and don’t provide much support for their large heads. When someone forcefully shakes a baby, the baby’s brain repeatedly strikes the inside of the skull and injures the brain.

Nearly all victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome suffer serious health consequences including severe brain damage, blindness, hearing loss, learning problems, seizure disorders, cerebral palsy and paralysis. At least one of every four babies who are violently shaken die from Shaken Baby Syndrome.

​This knowledge will help keep babies in your care safe and healthy. Sharing this knowledge may help keep other babies safe and healthy.

Click here and then click ‘open in a new tab’ to watch a video about how to prevent shaken baby syndrome.