How can shaken baby syndrome (SBS) be prevented?

Parents or caregivers who shake babies usually say that the shaking occurred when the baby was crying inconsolably.

Babies cry from one to three hours per day. Here are some things you can do to avoid becoming angry and shaking the baby:

  • First, make sure that nothing obvious is wrong with the child. You should check to see if diapers are clean and if the baby is hungry or cold. Make sure there is no sign of illness, such as fever or swelling, and that nothing is causing pain.
  • If the baby's needs are met, try using noise. You can put on a radio, or sing and talk to the baby. Sometimes babies like noises like vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, hair dryers or fans.
  • Offer the baby a toy or pacifier.
  • Take the baby or child for a ride in the car (appropriately secured in his or her car seat).
  • Take your baby for a ride on an outdoor swing.
  • Ask someone else (a friend, a coworker, a neighbor or a family member) to take over for you for a period of time so you can have a break. It is very reasonable to ask for help. (Be sure to check references if you plan to place your child in daycare.)
  • If no one else is available to take over for you, put the baby safely in the crib and leave the room for a few minutes while you calm down. Remember, crying won’t hurt babies, but shaking will.

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