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Shaken baby syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome occurs when someone shakes a baby or young child so hard they are hurt. 

The sudden, forceful whiplash motion can cause brain damage that leads to mental retardation, speech and learning disabilities, paralysis, seizures, hearing loss, blindness and even death. Often it happens because the parent or caregiver is frustrated by the baby’s 
inconsolable crying.

If you or someone else shakes a baby, either accidentally or on purpose, call 911 or take the child to the emergency room immediately. Early treatment may save your baby many future problems, possibly his life.


All babies have their own personality and temperament. Although all babies cry, some are more quiet and calm, while others cry more and need more attention. Your baby may cry to tell you he or she is hungry, wet, lonely, too cold or too hot. Your baby may 
cry to release stress. It is important to check on your baby when he or she is crying. You will not spoil your baby; this is how your baby learns trust.

If he or she is crying incessantly:

  • Never throw or shake your baby.
  • Always provide support for your baby’s head and neck.
  • Place your baby in a crib, leave the room for a few minutes.
  • Sit down, close your eyes and count to 20 or ask a friend to “take over” for awhile.
  • Take your baby for a stroller ride.
  • Play music or sing to your baby.
  • Wait to pick your baby up until you feel calm.
  • Make sure your baby is fed, burped and dry.
  • Gently rock, walk, hug or cuddle your baby.
  • Check for discomfort of diaper rash, teething or fever.
  • Call the doctor if you think your baby is sick.
  • Make sure your baby’s clothing is not too light.
  • Give your baby a pacifier, noisy toy or rattle.
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