Shaking babies

If a baby is shaken, it can lead to a lifetime of damage for the baby.

Shaking a baby or young child can:
•damage a child's brain.
•cause permanent disabilities, like blindness or paralysis.
•cause death.

Children under 1 year old are particularly at risk. BUT no child, of any age, should be ever be shaken.

How can parents protect their child?

Talk to your babysitter, friends, and relatives so that they are also aware of the dangers of shaking a child.

Where can parents go for help?

Being a parent or caregiver is not easy. A baby's constant crying can be stressful. But there are resources and professionals who can help you in difficult times. Talk to your health visitor or GP, and look for local community resources that support parents and caregivers.

If your child is crying:

•Check to see if your baby needs something, like a nappy change, feeding, an extra blanket etc,
•Check that there are no signs that your baby is unwell.
•If your baby continues to cry after you've made sure there's no specific problem, stay calm and check how you feel. Are you upset? Are you frustrated?
•If you feel you might lose control, stop! Place your child safely in the cot, and leave the room for a few minutes.
•Talk to a friend, family member, neighbour, or anyone else you trust, and get some support.If you feel you may hurt your baby, call for help: a local crisis line, your doctor, health visitor etc.
•Remember, no matter how upset you feel, DON'T SHAKE YOUR BABY.

What should parents do?

Plan ahead. Some tips for parents:
•Make some arrangements for regular safe babysitting, and get some rest.
•Form a "back-up" plan for calling in reliable help when your baby's crying seems impossible to deal with.
•Talk to friends, family or a health professional about your situation.Know your caregiver.
•Never leave your child with someone you don't know well and trust, or someone who has violent reactions or lacks maturity someone who is unused to caring for children.

For more information about dealing with crying babies please visit the NSPCC's webpage - coping with crying babies or contact the Cry-Sis helpline on 08451 228669 for help and support with dealing with your child.