Did you know that shaken baby syndrome is one of the leading causes of infant abuse-related deaths in the U.S.? No reason to panic, as long as you follow the proper steps that will keep your child safe. Learning about shaken baby syndrome prevention might be crucial to your baby’s wellbeing.
Babies cry a lot, sometimes for hours with no end in sight. It is natural to feel an urge to do almost anything to stop the crying. However, no matter what, do not shake your child.
Studies have shown that approximately three to four babies succumb to fatal head injury, every day, the cause of which being child abuse. To make matters worse, parents are usually the ones responsible. However, most SBS causes are not intentional.
Typically, it occurs when a parent loses control and tries to silence their crying child, as a result of frustration. The consequences can be very harmful.
Let’s compare it to shaking a half-full bottle of apple juice. Just like the juice goes back and forth inside the bottle, the infant’s brain hits the inside of the skull in a very violent manner. The results of which are terrible injuries – swelling, bleeding and ruptured blood vessels.
Estimates are that at least twenty-five percent of shaken infants succumb to the injuries. The babies that survive it, can experience cerebral palsy, seizures, physical disabilities, blindness, development delays, mental retardation, or other severe health issues. To make sure it never comes to that, let’s learn more about prevention.
One of the essential parenting skills is keeping yourself composed. When things get rough, and you feel like losing your temper – control your breathing. You can also try giving yourself a pep talk or counting to ten (or as high as you might need).
Managing one’s expectations can undoubtedly be helpful. Accepting the fact that every infant cries a lot is crucial. Lots of cries aren’t a result of bad parenting, nor do they occur because the child is misbehaving and trying to anger you.
Don’t beat yourself too much. If your baby is crying excessively sometimes, you are not at fault. Try to keep your emotions in check as much as you can.
Think Outside the Box
You have tried feeding your child, changing their clothes, rocking and burping, but to no avail? If you think you’ve hit a brick wall, let’s take a step back and see what else you can do. There might be some other ways you can soothe your child – perhaps by singing a cheerful tune or dancing with your child in your arms.
If that’ doesn’t work, hold on, perhaps we can try something else. Giving your child a little massage or making funny faces might prove to be helpful. How about reading to your baby in an exaggerated voice?
Maybe you can try going out for a drive with your little one. Place him in a car seat and drive around the neighbourhood. It’s something that can help both of you relax. If you have tried all of the before mentioned options, and maybe even other safe methods, without much success, it would be best to schedule an appointment with your family doctor to see if your child is crying because of silent reflux or some other medical problem.
Make Sure to Get Some Sleep
Lashing out at a newborn is more likely when exhaustion is in play. Getting enough sleep is difficult when you have a baby to take care of, but it’s very important to get enough sleep.
Squeezing in some shut-eye can be tricky, so it’s best to try and work out a schedule with your partner. You can relieve your partner of their parental duties every other night, while they do the same for you.
If you can afford it, hire a house-keeper. That way, you and your baby can sleep at the same time.
Take a Parenting Course
Being a parent isn’t easy, but you’re not the first one. There are plenty of others who have “survived” their newborns.
Join a parent support group or an educational class. Others who have had similar experiences can teach you coping mechanisms and offer some tips. Maybe just hearing a story from another parent is enough to help you make it through those difficult days.
Before the baby arrives, try to learn as much as you can about parenting and the hardships that await you. The better prepared you are, the less likely you’ll react inappropriately if anger takes hold of you. It would be wise to ask your doctor to refer you to a helpful organization.
Explain the Dangers to Others
You probably have family and friends helping you take care of your child. Make sure to talk about SBS with them. Pass on what you have learned.
Your in-laws, parents or friends certainly do mean well, but might not we aware of how dangerous it is to shake a baby. Make sure to let them know what calms your child. Telling them what’s your child’s favorite song of how they like to be held can be of great help.
However, if they do try all of that and it doesn’t work, instruct them on how to behave in that situation. Younger children do not possess the strength to shake an infant, but it’s still good to teach the older siblings about the dangers of such actions. Never leave an infant alone with a young child.
When hiring a babysitter, make sure to do a good background check on them. The same goes for day-cares. If you suspect that some person might have anger problems, never leave your baby with them.
Take Care of Yourself
Managing your stress will make you a more cheerful and patient parent. Prioritize activities that are beneficial for your wellbeing. Tending to your appearance, eating balanced meals, working out, and drinking enough water can help you maintain your inner balance.
Try to find some time for special treats for yourself. Read a new book, take a relaxing bath, meet with a friend or watch a movie – all of those activities can prove to be very helpful. Showing some affection toward yourself will help you be more loving toward your child.
Take a Break
Whenever you become overwhelmed, walk away. Even if it’s just for a couple of minutes, let someone else take care of your parenting duties – someone you trust, of course. If you’re all by yourself, it’s OK to take a step back and let the baby cry.
Don’t worry, it won’t harm your baby. You can take a break while they cry. Put your child in their bassinet and go to the other room to gather yourself. Stepping away from the noise for just a little bit can help ease the frustration.
In case you ever reach a point where you feel like you can’t handle it anymore, place your child in their bassinet and call somebody ASAP. Ask someone to step in for just a little bit while you’re calming down.
If you think the problem might be more severe and suspect that you are experiencing postpartum depression, check with your physician.
No one will take your baby away. There are professionals there that can help you and your baby. Parenting isn’t easy. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.