As the New Year unfolds, there is an opportunity to recommit to the health and safety of all children. The biggest message to prevent shaking or otherwise abusing a baby or child — have a plan.
Babies cry, sometimes uncontrollably. Give yourself the permission to put your baby safely in his or her crib and walk away. Take a few minutes for yourself, even going out on the porch if necessary. Call a supportive family member or friend to share your frustration or ask for help. If you are near your breaking point, make sure baby is safe, walk away and let baby cry. Crying babies will live, shaken babies may not.
If you are placing your child in the care of someone else, talk about their plan. Give that caregiver permission to put a crying baby in a safe place and identify calming strategies that will work for them.
If you aren’t currently caring for a child, but know someone who is, please share this information with them. Support them in their moments of hardship and help them identify appropriate plans to manage the often overwhelming work of parenting.
Raising children is hard work. “I know as a mother I wish I could understand why my 18-month-old cries — is she hungry, does her head hurt, does she just want to be held?” says Jessica Saunders, director for the Center of Child Health and Wellness. “I know how frustrating it can be to not have all of the answers. Sometimes the best answer is just to breathe.”