Many of us have heard time and again, “Don’t shake a baby” However, this instruction does not make sense to many because shaking a baby seems to be one of the world’s commonest means of quieting a crying baby.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with rocking a baby but when that progresses to exerting some force to move the baby to and fro, it’s just wrong and you could seriously injure or kill that child.
This is known as the “Shaken Baby Syndrome” or “Abusive Head Trauma.”
The Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a caregiver (parent, relatives, nannies, daycare centers) shakes a baby vigorously mostly out of frustration or anger because the baby won’t stop crying.
Babies are not little adults. Their bodies are not as tough. Because their necks and skulls are fragile, shaking a baby that hard, injures the neck muscles, the spine, and also causes the brain to move swiftly, back and forth within the skull, injuring it in the process.
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In many cases of “Shaken Baby Syndrome,” the baby may exhibit some observable signs including:
i. Irritability and crying
iv. Breathing difficulties
vi. Loss of apetite/refusal to eat
vii. Difficulty staying awake
Injured babies may also present with bleeding into the brain and eye, fractures of the skull, injured spinal cord that may result in paralysis and may show signs of previous abuse such as rib fractures.
Babies are tender and incapable of understanding the frustration that may arise from their irritability. Think about it, an irritable baby is frustrated too!
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The best thing to do if you feel on edge while caring for a b@by, is to set that child down in a safe spot (cot, guarded bed, play pen), inform another adult present and take a break.
Any child with suspected trauma should be taken to the doctor and confirmation reported to the police.
Please do not shake babies, whether out of “love,” anger or frustration, just don’t!