Shaking is a leading cause of injury death in children under twelve months of age.
Injuries caused by shaking don’t happen accidentally during normal play. As a baby’s head is big and heavy compared to the rest of its body, unless it is supported, the head flops around, as the neck muscles aren’t yet strong enough to hold it still. When a baby is shaken his head is thrown back and forth very quickly with great force. This force causes tiny blood vessels inside the baby’s brain to tear and bleed, which may result in blindness, deafness, seizures, brain damage which can contribute to learning and behavioural difficulties, or death.
It seems from clinical experience and the stories families have told, that the major reason that babies are shaken is because a parent or carer becomes frustrated or distressed in response to a crying baby. Many families have other stressors in their lives which impact their ability to manage the emotional effects of a baby’s crying. It is unclear what degree of force or amount of shaking can cause damage to a baby or child. Therefore, any degree of shaking is considered dangerous and should be avoided. So remember, no matter how upset you feel... Shaking your baby is just not the deal!
The shaken baby prevention project has produced a number of resources, including a video clip, posters, brochures and postcards, to provide information to parents, carers and professionals about responding to a crying baby. These were developed to support families in dealing with the challenges of managing a crying baby and provide safe strategies for responding to a crying infant. The project's goal is to ensure that all those involved with babies understand the importance of not shaking a baby, ever. Please click here to order hard copies of the poster and postcards.
This 3.5 minute animated video clip provides suggestions and strategies for responding to a crying baby. It is suitable for use by parent educators, in schools, in hospitals, doctor's surgeries, in child care centres and for personal use by parents and carers wanting to educate babysitters, family friends and young people.
This video is also available in a range of languages, listed below.