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Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)

Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) describes what happens after the violent shaking of an infant or small child. SBS is a true health crisis, accounting for an estimated one in ten of all children’s deaths due to abuse of neglect. Sadly, Texas has the highest rate of death from child abuse, including SBS.

Experts report up to 1,500 cases of SBS occur each year in the U.S., with nearly half (41%) of the victims under the age of one. One of four children injured by SBS will die, a tragic result of violent shaking at the hands of a parent or caregiver. Although 60% of the perpetrators are male (usually fathers or father figures), women are frequently involved too.

With proper education, SBS is totally preventable. Each year 11,000 babies are born in Central Texas. Let’s work together to keep them safe and healthy.

Crying is normal

Studies show that all babies start to cry around two weeks old. This crying will increase with a peak at around two-three months of age and usually declines around five months of age.

Each baby has a personal crying pattern. Some will cry as long as five hours a day or more; this high crying level is sometimes called “colic” and is considered normal. Some infants cry less than 20 minutes each day, which is also considered normal. If your baby is healthy, then crying is just part of being an infant.

Remember that crying is normal and does not reflect on your parenting. Your baby is not angry with you or punishing you. Your baby is not bad and you are not a deficient parent.

Never shake your baby to stop the crying

While nonstop crying can try your patience, you and your baby’s other caregivers must never respond by shaking the child.

No matter how frustrated you may become, it is never okay to shake your baby.

  • Shaking can cause blindness, permanent brain damage or death.
  • Even mild shaking may result in brain damage.
  • Hard shaking kills infants outright.

Smart ways to cope with crying

No one likes to hear a baby cry. It may be irritating and frustrating but crying is the only way your infant can communicate.

Some babies cry when they are hungry, tired, wet, ill or just want to be held. Check these basic needs and try to make them comfortable. Remember, it’s normal for babies to cry and crying won’t hurt them.

Be aware of your frustration level when the baby cries for a while. Most importantly, have a plan to cope with your frustration when the crying begins. Make sure anyone who cares for your child is aware of the plan and is prepared to follow it.

  • Make sure the baby is clean, fed, comfortable and safe – then walk away.
  • Put the baby in a safe place like a crib or playpen.
  • Leave the room for a while.
  • Check on the baby every 10-15 minutes.
  • Listen to music, watch TV, exercise or call a friend to calm yourself.

There is no owner’s manual issued with your new baby. Over time you and your infant will learn each other’s signals and the crying will probably decrease. With a little planning and patience, you will grow closer and calmer with each other.

Ask for help

If you are concerned about your baby’s crying, ask your doctor to examine your child. There may be a physical condition causing the crying or it may simply be your infant’s personal pattern. Call 254-724-KIDS (5437) to make an appointment with a pediatrician.

Bouts of crying can be difficult to handle. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

If you need help, call the Childhelp USA Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) or call 911.

Put the baby in a safe place and leave the room.

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