Shaken Baby Syndrome

Research shows that shaking most often occurs in response to a baby crying or other factors that can trigger the person caring for the baby to become frustrated or angry.

The fact is that crying –including long bouts of inconsolable crying—is normal developmental behavior in infants. The problem is not the crying, it's how caregivers respond to it. Picking up a baby and shaking, throwing, hitting, or hurting him or her is never an appropriate response.

Everyone, from caregivers to bystanders, can do something to prevent SBS. Giving parents and caregivers tools that can help them cope if they find themselves becoming frustrated while caring for a baby are important components of any SBS prevention program.

Prevention Tips for Parents and Caregivers

  • Babies cry a lot in the first few months of like and this can be frustrating. But it will get better.
  • Remember, you are not a bad parent or caregiver if your baby continues to cry after you have done all you can to calm him or her.
  • You can try to calm you crying baby by:
    • Rubbing his or her back,
    • Gently rocking,
    • Offering a pacifier,
    • Singing or talking, or
    • Taking a walk using a stroller or a drive with the baby in a properly-secured car seat.
  • If you have tried various ways to calm your baby and he or she won't stop crying, do the following:
    • Check for signs of illness or discomfort like a diaper rash, teething, or tight clothing.
    • Call the doctor if you suspect your child is ill.
    • Assess whether he/she is hungry or needs to be burped.
  • If you find yourself pushed to the limit by a crying baby, you may need to focus on calming yourself. Put your baby in a crib on his or her back, make sure he or she is sage, and then walk away for a bit and call a friend, relative, neighbor, or parent helpline for support. Check on him or her every 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Understand that you may not be able to calm your baby and that it is not your fault. It is normal for healthy babies to cry much more in the first 4 months of life. It may help to think of this as the Period of PURPLE Crying as identified by the National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS). For more information about the Period of PURPLE Crying and NCSBS, visit www.dontshake.org.
  • Tell everyone who cares for your baby about the dangers of shaking a baby and what to do if they become angry, frustrated, or upset when your baby has an episode of inconsolable crying or does other things that caregivers may find annoying, such as interrupting television, video games, sleep time, etc.
  • Be aware of signs of frustration and anger among other caring for your baby. Let them know that crying is normal and that it will get better.
  • Do not leave your baby in the care of someone you know has anger management issues.
  • See a health care professional if you have anger management or other behavioral concerns.
Information above provided by: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

For information about local trainings please call Bright Tomorrows at 234-2646.

For additional information about Shaken Baby Syndrome please go to the following websites:

National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome www.dontshake.org
Center for Disease Control www.cdc.gov

Bright Tomorrows Child Advocacy Center  ·  409 Washington  ·  Pocatello, Idaho  83201  ·  (208) 234-2646

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