ABUSIVE HEAD TRAUMA IS PREVENTABLE
NEVER, EVER SHAKE A BABY/YOUNG CHILD! No matter how much they cry. No matter how tired you are. No matter how frustrated you get. Never, ever shake a baby/young child.
This form of child abuse is preventable and just saying; “don’t shake a baby” is not enough. It’s important to have a plan of action to get away from a baby before a caregiver’s anger is out of control. If all of a baby’s needs have been met it’s ok to allow a baby to cry. Teaching and role modeling positive ways to cope with a crying baby is important in preventing SBS/AHT.
Things that a child’s caregiver can try include:
Check the Baby’s Basic Needs:
- Hungry (feed slowly)
- Gassy (burp)
- Wet (change diaper)
- Tired (give a nap)
- Too hot or too cold (add or take off clothing)
- Lonely (pick up)
- Check for Signs of Illness (contact parents)
Try Different Calming Methods; For Baby:
- Offer the baby a pacifier.
- Hold or rock the baby.
- Take the baby for a walk in a stroller or ride in the car.
- Sing or play music.
- Give the baby a soft massage
Try Different Calming Methods; For Parents and Providers
- Place the baby in a crib or other safe place and take a break from the sound of the crying.
- Let your anger out in a safe way (taking a deep breath and counting to 10, listen to music and/or exercise
- Call a friend or relative for emotional support.
- Call a health care provider and/or a crisis nursery.
- Understand that crying is normal and it will come to an end.
- If in a child care center ask for a break from the classroom or switch classrooms with another staff member.
A plan of action should include reassurance to all who care for infants/children that it is ok to call or ask for help when needed. A written plan of action should include ways to deal with a crying baby, who to call and emergency numbers. Play an active role in preventing AHT with staff and parents through role modeling, education about the dangers of violently shaking a baby, awareness of risk factors and triggers, and support the strategies to cope with crying.
Remember, it is never ok to shake a baby or young child. If you know or suspect a child has been shaken as a mandated reporter you are required to report it. An oral report must be made immediately or within 24 hours, followed by a written report. Don’t let embarrassment, guilt, or fear get in the way of the child’s health or life. Getting medical care right away may save the child’s life and prevent serious health problems from developing.