Infants cannot inform caregivers when something is wrong, and sometimes they cry and cry no matter how soothing a caregiver is. This is called the Period of PURPLE Crying.

During this stage in a baby’s life, caregivers can become exhausted and hopeless. Tired and beyond stressed, they shake their baby in a fit of rage. THIS IS NEVER OK. 

Babies are fragile. During a child’s first year of life, their heads are heavy and large compared to their bodies. Their muscles, especially in the neck, are weak and their brains are underdeveloped.

Shaking a baby is extremely dangerous and often leads to lifelong health and development problems or death. No matter how brief a period of violent shaking is, there is a high likelihood that survivors will encounter serious medical complications. Some symptoms of shaken baby syndrome include difficulty staying awake, breathing problems, poor eating, vomiting, facial bruising, seizures, paralysis and coma.

If you believe someone shook your baby, seek professional healthcare immediately. 

How to prevent shaken baby syndrome

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol when taking care of a baby.
  • Seek help if you have trouble managing your emotions.
  • Find distractions for both of you, like going for a short drive.
  • Take care of yourself: Give yourself breaks by asking for help from friends and family.
  • Tell other caregivers about the dangers of stress and shaken baby syndrome.

If your baby is crying and cannot be soothed

  • Take your baby for a walk.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, put the baby in a safe sleep environment and go to another room to cool off for a few minutes.

Remember: A baby doesn’t have many ways to communicate other than crying.

When a caregiver shakes a baby, it is often the result of stress. The shaker does not plan to abuse or kill the infant. This is why it’s important to get help if you need it.

Bootheel Babies & Families can connect you with free and/or affordable resources that relieve stress. Fill out a contact form, and we’ll have a local BBF hub partner contact you.