I know you all have older toddlers, but children up to age five are susceptible to this.
Today marks the start of National Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week (April 20-26). It’s something that most people who have never had a child who was shaken overlook. They think, “That doesn’t really apply to me because that could never happen to my child.” Really? Think so? Think again. I never thought it could either, until it happened to my son.
Other people might still be thinking, “OK, well it happened to you but it won’t happen to me because I trust everybody who cares for my child.” Again, so did I. Simple trust ISN’T enough. You have to fully educate everyone who cares for your child – your parents, your DH/SO, your siblings, your best friend, their babysitter… EVERYONE. Have a talk with everyone who cares for your child – a simple talk, not anything confrontational. Of course you don’t think they would do anything like shake a baby, but you know what? I didn’t, either. NO ONE who has ever had a child who was shaken thought that, until it was too late.
Most people who shake babies aren’t violent people normally. They have no criminal record, no bad tempers… they’re normal, average, everyday people. When a baby is shaken, it happens when a person just gets to the point of being too frustrated with a crying child that they completely lose it for a few seconds and shake the baby that they’re holding, that they’re supposed to be caring for. Unfortunately, a few seconds is all it takes to ruin the rest of a baby’s life FOREVER.
Every year in the United States alone, an estimated 1,400 babies are shaken for whom treatment is sought. But the numbers don’t end there… a study done recently at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill found that for every one diagnosed case of Shaken Baby Syndrome, another 150 babies under the age of two are shaken. These kids, the ones who aren’t shaken severely enough to warrant immediate medical attention, nevertheless can suffer lifelong problems. They are the ones who, years down the road, will enter school and have learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
And if those numbers aren’t real enough for you, those statistics equate to 1 child in 38 who is shaken at some point before the age of two. Think how many moms there are, right here on this website. I might be one of the only ones who knows she has a child who was shaken, but how many more are there out there who might be shaken and their moms will never know it? Why not stop it before it happens to your child?
How, you wonder? Again… educate. Tell everyone who cares for your child of the harm that shaking a baby causes, and don’t stop there. With your husband or significant other, have a plan in place – a well thought out plan – for when frustration gets to be overwhelming. What will you do when you can’t take the crying anymore? Know that it’s okay to put the baby down in a safe place and walk away. Take a breather from the crying. Phone a friend, exercise… watch TV or listen to music. Letting a child cry when you’re feeling frustrated does NOT make you a bad parent. Even getting frustrated doesn’t make you a bad parent – it’s what you do with that feeling that counts. No child has ever died from crying too much, but TOO MANY have died from being shaken.
Also realize that crying in infants is completely normal. Crying is a baby's only way of communicating. Not being able to get a child to stop crying does NOT make you a bad parent. Sometimes babies just need to cry. Newborns, in particular, starting at about two weeks of age, go through this completely normal period. It used to be called colic, but recently field experts have partnered together in research and found something more descriptive and helpful - it's called the Period of PURPLE crying. For more information on PURPLE, visit - http://tinyurl.com/35t2vd
Statistically speaking, biological fathers are the perpetrators most often in shaken baby cases. Men are the abusers far more than any other group. Many moms have an irrational fear of leaving their child with a babysitter or daycare provider, while in all actuality children are in much more danger under their own roofs. Scary thought. That's why it's SO important to educate everyone your child might come in contact with... no matter how much you think you can trust them, or how well you know them, or anything else. Educate EVERYONE.
One in four shaken babies die within a few hours to a few days of being shaken. The vast majority of the rest (85%) are left with severe, lifelong disabilities. Blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, paralysis, developmental delays, seizure disorders, learning disorders, behavioral problems… the list goes on and on. Many will never walk, talk, see or eat by mouth, ever again. I know that no one here wants that for their child. We are all on this site because we love our children and we want what’s best for them.
Also realize that while it might be called "Shaken Baby Syndrome," it's not ONLY babies who are susceptible to injury from shaking. Children up to the age of FIVE have died from being shaken. Even adults in domestic violence situations can suffer brain injury as a results of a severe shaking.
So please, take it from someone who has been where you are now – don’t wait until it’s too late to start educating others. Start now… what better time than during Child Abuse Prevention Month and SBS Awareness week? Talk to those who care for your children. And never, ever make the mistake of thinking it can’t happen to you. It can and it does happen every single day.
For more information on SBS, visit: www.stopsbs.net www.dontshake.org www.aboutshakenbaby.com www.sbsprevention.com www.shakenbabycoalition.org
*Jennipher* http://stopsbs.net ~ My son is my HERO! He is an SBS survivor, shaken at 7 weeks old by bio. father (now my EX-husband). Make sure to tell everyone who cares for your child (ESPECIALLY your spouse) how important it is to never, EVER shake a baby or small child - JUST WALK AWAY!
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