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If you shake a baby so violently that the head is thrown back and forth, the blood vessels under the hard meninges are torn off. This creates cerebral hemorrhages that can become very large. This type of cerebral haemorrhage often causes severe, permanent brain damage in the child, if they survives. Never shake a baby.
When you’ve given up as a parent
As the parent of a small baby who screams inconsolably and never seems to fall asleep, it is common to get angry. Everyone gets angry with sleep deprivation. When a baby screams even after everything you’ve done for it, it’s normal to feel deflated and defeated.
When you feel this happening, you need to take responsibility to protect your baby from your anger.
A baby doesn’t die from screaming
Put the baby down. Close the door. Catch your breath. Call someone. But never shake the baby.
Shaking a baby is often deadly
A baby won’t die if they’re screaming alone. But there is a high risk that the baby will die of cerebral haemorrhages if you shake them. Brain hemorrhages lead to increased pressure in the brain and respiratory arrest. If you have shaken your baby – call an ambulance.
Ask for help
When you’ve exhausted all your resources and have given up taking care of your child: ask for help. Put the baby in their bed or on the floor and go into another room. Think about who you can get help from. If the child has another parent, it’s time to call that parent home. Can you call your midwife? Maybe you have a sibling, a parent, a parent-in-law, a neighbor, or a friend you trust. Call and ask for relief!
Do you have anyone at all who can help you? If you need to, seek the children’s emergency room and explain the situation.
If it is during the day, you can always call the municipality’s social services. They can give you the best support.
Will social services take the baby away from me?
If you shake the baby and it leads to brain damage, social services should decide that someone else may take care of the child. But if you seek help because you can’t take it anymore, you show that you are a responsible parent who knows your own limitations. It shows that you can continue to take care of your child but with extra support. Removing children from their guardians is the very last solution that social services rarely resort to.
Rocking the stroller heavily
It is not possible to cause harm to infants by rocking the stroller heavily, or driving it over a curb. It is the repeated uncontrollable hurling of the child’s head back and forth that causes damage.