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Choose Your Sitter Carefully—Understanding Shaken Baby Syndrome


Parents never like to think about harm falling upon their babies, but unfortunately, things happen sometimes. One of the most common causes of damage to babies is from a brain injury known as “shaken baby syndrome.” Understanding exactly what shaken baby syndrome is and how to avoid it can greatly help protect your baby.


What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken baby syndrome is a very serious form of child abuse. In most cases, according to the Happiest Baby, this injury stems from babies being shaken too hard in a violent manner. Often, the child won’t stop crying, which triggers an immense amount of frustration or anxiety from a parent, guardian, or babysitter. Thus, choosing a babysitter or caregiver carefully is incredibly important. While you may never dream of hurting your baby, those without that emotional attachment may not take the situation as seriously as you would. The most typical victims are young babies between the ages of six to eight weeks of age, when crying is the most consistent. On average, children ages three to eight months are also highly susceptible to having head trauma. Shaken baby syndrome is a critical situation in which babies need immediate medical attention. The quicker a baby is seen by a physician, the higher the chance of making some sort of recovery. There are some symptoms that can indicate your baby has been shaken violently, and these include sudden seizures, bruises, vomiting, and even difficulty staying awake. Babies are often irritable, but extended amounts of irritability can also be an indicator that something is wrong.


Why is it So Serious?

Also known as abusive head trauma, shaken baby syndrome is a form of child abuse. Babies are being shaken so hard that their brains are physically injured. According to GBW Law, shaken baby syndrome can cause severe traumatic brain injuries, which is a part of why it is among the leading causes of child abuse deaths in the U.S. In addition to potentially causing death to young infants, this abuse can also lead to lasting defects in children. Since the brain is damaged, victims may develop severe mental retardation, learning disabilities, seizures, and cerebral palsy. Furthermore, children may also have hearing and vision loss; some children may even go completely blind.


How Can it Be Prevented?

Now that you know how serious shaken baby syndrome is, you should also know that it can be prevented, according to HealthyChildren.org. You want to protect your baby from ever having something happen to him or her. If you find yourself feeling angry with your baby, take a deep breath and remember that it’s just what babies do—they’re communicating. Work proactively to help your baby be happy and cared for by keeping the diaper dry, making sure the baby is fed and burped, and try to keep your little one entertained. If you’re using a babysitter or caregiver, you must choose carefully to ensure your baby is safe. While you may never really know that person, you should always ask for references. If your babysitter has glowing reviews for safety, it may be worth a shot. You could also spend time with your potential babysitter. Alternatively, you could leave your baby with a trusted relative who’s shown immense responsibility. You just want to know that he or she is going to love your baby the way you do. Safety is always of the utmost importance!


Shaken baby syndrome is a serious topic that parents need to consider when choosing a babysitter. You always want to ensure the safety of your baby. By taking a proactive stand with your potential caregivers, devastating mishaps can be prevented.

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