Preventing Abusive Head Trauma
Posted on April 14, 2017 by CHS
What is Abusive Head Trauma?
Abusive head trauma (AHT), which includes shaken baby syndrome, is a severe form of child abuse that results in an injury to the brain of an infant or child, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Completely preventable, it is caused by violent shaking or hard impact to the child’s head, causing bleeding in the brain. This is fatal for many babies, and for others it can cause severe health issues including physical disabilities, vision or hearing impairments, and developmental problems.
Though this may sound like something you would never do to your child or one in your care, anyone is susceptible to unintentionally harming a child when feeling extremely frustrated or overwhelmed. This is especially true for caregivers who don’t understand the child’s needs, or for new parents who are under stress, lacking sleep, or feeling out of control. Shaking a child to try and stop the crying can seem like the last resort.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to calm a crying child, and shaking or hitting their head will only make things worse. Below are some tips on how to calm yourself, as well as methods you can try for calming a crying baby.
Strategies to Calm a Crying Baby and Prevent Head Trauma
- Remember that it is normal for babies to cry, and you may not always be able to calm them.
- Check to see if they are hungry, thirsty, or need a diaper change.
- Check their temperature or call your doctor if you think they may be sick.
- Babies may also be stressed in some way and just need time to relax.
- Try rocking them, swaddling them, holding with them while walking around the room, or bouncing to soothe them.
- Talk or sing to them softly, or play some calming music.
- Offer a toy to play with to help distract them.
- If you can’t get them to calm down, and you need a break, place them gently on their back in a crib and close the bedroom door. You can safely leave them alone for a bit, and step away to calm yourself down.
- Keep phone numbers for three different people, either relatives or friends, that you can call when you need help.
- Take a break – schedule time regularly for your spouse, a friend, or a babysitter to watch your child for a few hours so you can get away and rest, or do something you enjoy. Making time to de-stress and unwind reduces irritability and increases your ability to deal with daily stresses in a healthy manner.
- Consult your child’s pediatrician if crying persists over time. The pediatrician can determine if there is a physical cause, or if the crying is part of your child’s typical development.