Coping with Crying/Shaken Baby Syndrome
New babies can be precious bundles of joy when they’re happy, but as a parent or caregiver, it is important to think about how you will react and what you will do when your baby cries. Crying is how infants “talk” to us and is a natural part of being a baby. Two to three hours of crying a day is considered normal for a healthy baby. Babies who are not feeling well or have medical conditions may cry longer and you may not be able to soothe them. Sometimes babies cry for no apparent reason.
But crying is also the main trigger for an adult to violently shake an infant. Shaken Baby Syndrome, now more commonly know as Abusive Head Trauma, is one of the most common causes of death by physical abuse to young children in Florida. Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a frustrated caregiver loses control and violently shakes a young child, causing permanent brain damage or death. If a baby survives the violent shaking, he or she may be left with cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, seizures, and/or learning/behavioral difficulties.
Infants under 6 months of age are at highest risk, but all children up to 3 yrs old are at risk. For older children reasons for shaking include toilet training, crying, and oppositional behaviors (those “terrible twos”).
Sometimes nothing will calm a baby. Remember babies can cry for no apparent reason.
If you begin to feel frustrated, understand that it is no longer about the baby crying, it is now about YOU. How can you tell if you are frustrated? Do you have any of these signs?
How to Take Control of Your FrustrationAs the caregiver, you are responsible for controlling your actions and learning how to keep control under great pressure. Place the baby in a safe place such as a crib and leave the room. Take a deep breath. Deliberately focus on your breathing. Repeat deep breathing until you feel calm.
Calmness is a choice. Consciously choose to stay calm.
Now is the time to ask for help. Asking for help is your greatest sign of strength.
You are now in control because you have de-stressed and de-escalated the situation in your mind.
No one who has cared for an infant can honestly say that they have never felt frustrated over a baby’s constant cries. But….Remember no baby ever died from crying!
Print a brochure with this information to keep on your refrigerator or in your nursery for when you need to remember how to cope with your child’s crying. It may also be a good idea to print a brochure with information for your child care provider.
Coping with Crying (PDF 279kB)
United State Senate Resolution 55, 2001, designates the third week in April as “National Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week”.