What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Answer: Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a form of child abuse that occurs when an infant or young child is violently shaken. The shaking may only last a few seconds, but it can cause severe brain damage and even death.
The neck muscles in a baby or young child are underdeveloped and weak and are unable to support the baby’s large and disproportionate head. When a child is violently shaken, the brain bounces back and forth inside the skull tearing blood vessels and causing damage to the brain.
What are the physical signs and symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Answer: Since violent shaking causes immediate damage to the victim’s brain, symptoms will usually appear at once. These symptoms vary greatly and may appear to be caused by minor childhood ailments. Some of these minor signs and symptoms include:
• Trouble sucking or swallowing
• Decreased appetite
• Trouble sleeping
• Increased fussing or irritability
In the most severe shaking cases, the victim will immediately show more obvious signs of serious injury. Some of these severe symptoms include:
• Difficulty breathing or turning blue
• Unresponsive or lethargic
• Convulsions or seizures
• Loss of consciousness
Victims with these symptoms must be taken to the hospital immediately. They may die in a matter of hours.
How can we deal with inconsolable crying which is the primary cause of Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Answer: There are many reasons why babies cry, but what really matters is how a parent or caregiver deals with it.
We all need to keep in mind that crying is the only way babies can verbally express themselves. Crying gets our attention! Parents and caregivers must understand and remember that crying will be very frustrating. Remember, it’s important to not take crying personally. It is not about you. The baby is communicating and exercising her lungs.
When dealing with a crying infant always check the basics:
• Is the baby hungry? Try a bottle or pacifier.
• Does he/she need a nappy change?
• Is the baby too hot or cold or is the clothing twisted or pinching him/her?
• Is he/she sleepy? Try a recorded lullaby or other music.
• Is he/she frustrated? Try to pat or massage him…your contact lets him know he is safe.
• Is he/she bored? Try rocking or walking the baby…or go for a ride.
Reduce Your Stress!
• Take a break.
• Do something for yourself…everyday.
• Make friends with other parents. • Take a parenting class.
• Talk to someone you trust about your feelings
• Remember…it’s okay for your baby to cry.