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Where can you go to for help if you feel stressed?

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Shaking a baby can result ina serious brain injury. Shaken baby syndrome is a serious injury to the brain resulting from intentiona­l head trauma which can occurwhena baby is thrown, jogged, jerked, or shaken — often because the baby or child won’t stop crying.

It is the single most preventabl­e cause of serious head injury in babies under one year of age inNew Zealand.

Babies, especially very young ones, have relatively large heads, and weakneck muscles, so any kind of violentmov­ementwill cause a kind of whiplash effect.

Ababy’s delicate, developing brain ismuchmore sensitive to injury and seriousdam­age than an adult’s.

Babies also have fragile blood vessels which tearwhenth­e baby’s brain shifts quickly inside the skull. The build-up of blood in the small space puts pressure on the brain and eyes.

Sometimes roughmovem­entscan also detach the retina (the lightsensi­tive back of the eye), leading to blindness along with bruising intheir brain, brain bleeding and swelling.

Shaken baby syndrome ismore commonin children under 2, but it can affect childrenup to 5. Most cases of shaken baby syndrome occur amongbabie­s that are 6 to 8 weeks old, which iswhenbabi­es tend to cry the most.

Shakenbaby­syndrome happenswhe­nsomeone

uses force to shake a baby, infant or child

uses force to throw or drop a baby, infant or child on purpose

hits a baby’s, infant’s or child’s head or neck against an object, like the floor or furniture, or hits the head or neck with an object

Shakenbaby­syndrome symptomsan­dsignsmay include

moveless than usual be cranky and hard to comfort have trouble sucking or swallowing eat less than usual not smiling or cooing seemstiff vomiting have seizures have trouble breathing have skin that looks blue have pupils (the dark spots in centre of the eyes) that aren’t the samesize be unable to lift their head have trouble focusing their eyes or trackingmo­vement difficulty staying awake coma

Shakenbaby­syndromeis preventabl­e

Youcan avoid harming your baby by not shaking themunder any circumstan­ces. It’s easy tobecome frustrated­whenyou can’t get your baby to stop crying. However, crying is anormal behaviour in babies and infants, and shaking is never the right response.

It’s important to findwaysto relieve your stresswhen­your child cries for extended periods of time. Calling a familymemb­eror a friend for support can helpwhenyo­ufeel yourself losing control. Makesure your family membersand caregivers are also aware of the dangers of shaken baby syndrome.

Keypoints toremember abouthowto cope with a cryingbaby:

crying ishowbabie­s communicat­e — it does notmeanyou­r baby is being naughty

have a plan for what you will do if your baby keeps crying and you becomeupse­t or frustrated

it is never ever okay to shake a baby — makesure that all the peoplewho care for your babyknowth­is

never leave your baby alone with anyone that you think might lose control

it’s okay to put your baby or child in a safe place, walkaway and take a short break

Tips to helpyoucop­ewith a cryingbaby

try feeding your baby; if they don’t seemintere­sted, they are not hungry

change your baby’s nappies if they are wet or dirty

makesure your baby is not too hot or too cold

try cuddling your baby— theymay be lonely or need comforting

makesure there are no tight clothes on your baby that are hurting them somewhere

if your baby is showing tired signs, putthemdow­nsomewhere­safe to sleep— tired signs include yawning, rubbing the eyes, fist-sucking, as well as grumpiness

wrapping and holding your baby safely in a light-weight blanket— manybabies love to feel snug

singing or talking quietly to your baby, or playing somegentle music

taking your baby for awalk in a front pack or stroller; youcould also put your baby in their car seat and takethemfo­r adrive— motion generally helps to calm a babydown

try massaging them gently— this is a great tool to help soothe and settle

calling a friend or familymemb­er — maybethey couldcomeo­ver and give youa break

Whatshould­youdoifyou think yourbabyha­s been shaken?

Take your baby to your nearest doctor straightaw­ay

Dial 111 for urgent medical help if your baby is unconsciou­s or having breathing trouble

Don’t let guilt or fear get in theway of your child’s health. If your baby has a serious head injury because they have been shaken, it will only get worse without treatment. Early medical attentionm­aysave your baby’s life and prevent serious longterm problems

If your baby seems quite well but is fussy and/or vomiting, it is important that you tell the doctor that youknowor suspect your baby has been shaken, so they can give the proper treatment

If the crying wears you out or you find yourself stressed to your limit take a time out. Separate yourself from your baby for a little while. If ● Lifeline (phone 24 hours; 0800 543 354 or for callers in the Auckland area 522 2999)

● SHINE helpline: national family violence helpline 0508 744 633. Free and confidenti­al, operates every day 9am-11pm

● Samaritans (only available in some areas; phone numbers in front few pages of your White Pages phone book)

● Youthline for young parents (phone 0800 376 633)

● Healthline on 0800 611 116 (24 hours a day, every day)

● PlunketLin­e 0800 933 922 (24 hours a day, every day) ● Barnardos — 0800 BARNARDOS (0800 227 627 367)

● Family Start — available in 36 locations around New Zealand (check the Family Services Directory to find if there’s one near you)

● Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children (previously Child, Youth and Family) — 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)

possible, asksomeone else to take over comforting your baby. Put your baby in their crib or another safe place and leave the room. Try calling a friend or doing something you find relaxing such as making a cup of coffee or tea, taking a shower, listening to music, reading or sitting downand closing your eyes. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to call for help. Talking to a trusted friend or relative can be enormously comforting as well.

Bellies to Babies Antenatal & Postnatal Classes, baby massage courses and baby and infant first aid courses, 2087 Pakowhai Rd, Hawke’s Bay, 022 637 0624. https:/ /www.hbantenata­ nz/

Medical disclaimer: This page is for educationa­l and informatio­nal purposes only and may not be construed asmedical advice. The informatio­n is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians.

 ?? ?? A baby’s delicate, developing brain is much more sensitive to injury and serious damage than an adult’s.
A baby’s delicate, developing brain is much more sensitive to injury and serious damage than an adult’s.
 ?? ?? Janine Gard
Janine Gard

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