(Editor's note: Marsha Croasmun, coordinator of the Family Resource Center/Starting Points Center at the Wetzel County Center for Children and Families, is providing columns to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. She noted that her office represents and services both Wetzel and Tyler counties for Parents as Teachers.)
Babies cry. Some babies cry more than others. Some cry for a very long time no matter what you do. It's not the parent's fault or the baby's fault. All babies have crying patterns that increase beginning at two weeks of age and tend to peak at six to eight weeks. After this point, the crying declines. Crying happens more in the afternoon and evening, just when mom and dad are tired too. Babies sometimes keep crying no matter what you try and may cry for hours. Keeping your cool when the baby cries is very important for you baby's safety.
Shaken Baby Syndrome, or SBS, is most often triggered when a parent or caregiver can't cope with long period of crying. Shaking a baby any amount or hitting a baby's head can cause serious injury, even death. There is a simple plan you can use to keep your cool to prevent SBS from happening. First, make sure the baby is safe in their crib. Second, make sure the baby isn't hungry, sick, or needs a diaper change. Then, walk away. Go in another room, take a breath and call a family member or a friend for help. Relax, play some music to relax you and the baby.
Share the dangers of SBS with everyone who takes care of your baby: babysitters, grandparents, friends, and other family members. Make sure your loved ones have a plan to keep their cool also.
Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome may include irritability, difficulty staying awake, tremors, vomiting, seizures, difficulty breathing, and coma. If you think your baby has been shaken call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Understanding this time in your baby's life will help you enjoy your baby even more and help keep them safe. And remember to always keep your cool.
For more information on Shaken Baby Syndrome and Child Abuse go to www.preventchildabusewv.org or call Regina Reynolds at Wetzel County Center for Children and Families at 304-455-2468