Shaken baby syndrome is caused by the brain moving back and forth inside the skull and being bumped, bruised or twisted. This can happen from shaking, jerking and jolting the baby. Damage is irreversible. You should never, ever shake a baby.
Babies are extremely vulnerable to injuries from shaking because their neck muscles are not strong enough to control the motion of their heads. Shaken Baby Syndrome can cause brain damage, blindness, paralysis, seizures and fractures, and even death.
It is crucial that parents and child care providers understand that infants are never to be shaken or tossed in the air, even in play. It is also a good idea to educate all parents in your program about Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Some tips from the NYS Office of Children and Family Services to share with your staff and parents include:
- Crying is normal. Crying is how babies communicate. Crying periods will come to an end.
- A crying baby and stressed caregiver or parent raises the risk of shaking a baby. Never, ever shake a baby.
- When the baby is crying, consider that she may need a diaper change, or be hungry, tired, too hot or cold, or sick. Also, consider that your baby may just need to be calmed down.
- Have a plan to cope with the stress of the baby’s crying. Write down what soothes the baby, such as rocking, offering a toy, going for a walk, or listening to music. Share this information with everyone who cares for the child.
- If you feel unable to cope with the baby’s crying, place the baby in a safe place, such as a crib or playpen, and take a break. You may want to call a friend for support, or contact your doctor for guidance.
- When holding the baby, always support the baby’s head. Make sure everyone who has contact with the baby knows how to properly support the head when holding, carrying or playing with your baby.
- Discuss with family, friends, and caregivers the dangers of shaking infants, even in play. Anyone could shake a baby – a mother, father, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend, or child care provider.
Click here to see this and a list of other Health and Safety Publications from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Feel free to print these tip sheets and share them with your staff and parents.