A Cry for Help

Robyn felt alone, tired and desperate. She and her husband had just moved to a new town. She didn't have any friends to call or relatives to visit. Every day she stayed at home, growing increasingly frustrated with her colicky baby. Still, Robyn knew that was no reason to shake her.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), although not always reported, occurs at least 1,400 times each year in the United States. The signs and symptoms resulting from violent shaking or shaking and impacting the head of an infant range from minor irritability, lethargy, tremors and vomiting to major seizures, coma, stupor or even death.

The number one reason a baby is shaken is inconsolable crying. While it is sometimes okay to let a baby cry, it is never okay to shake him. Caregivers should deal with frustration by taking a proactive approach to stress management. Prevention specialist Karen Coleman suggests a caregiver make a list like the one below, before she finds herself out of control.

If the baby won't stop crying after all his basic needs have been met and he is not sick, try:

  • taking the baby for a walk in the stroller or going on a short drive.
  • putting the baby in a wind-up swing.
  • vacuuming the house or playing the radio. Babies sometimes love soothing noises, and these activities give the caretaker a break from the crying.
  • asking a trusted friend if you could drop off your baby for a while.
  • putting the baby in a safe place, like a crib or playpen, and leaving the room for a while. Check on the baby every one to 15 minutes. Remember it's normal for babies to cry, and it won't hurt them.
  • calling for help. If you feel like you're going to lose control, do something about it.

Consider contacting a counselor. Some areas offer crisis support nurseries or women's support groups.

For more information on SBS, contact The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome at 1-888-273-0071 or visit its Web site at http://www.dontshake.com/.

Background Information

Journey of No Return
Sometimes as parents, we have a knee-jerk response to our kids as we're barraged by their numerous inquires and desires. Maybe it's time to stop being so negative.

When Not To Discipline
Parents should recognize when they should and shouldn't discipline their children.

When You Feel Like Calling in the SWAT Team
Are your children constantly testing you? This classic parenting advice will help you regain the upper hand.

Questions and Answers

After I spank my child, she usually wants to hug me and make up, but I continue to be cool to her for a few hours. Do you think that is right?

We'd like to be more unified in our approach, but how do we successfully move from two financial approaches to one?

How long do you think a child should be allowed to cry after being punished? Is there a limit?

I have never spanked my 3-year-old because I am afraid it will teach her to hit others and be a violent person. Do you think I am wrong?

It just seems barbaric to cause pain to a defenseless child. Is it healthy to spank him or her?

Review Frequently Asked Questions


If you've been through a experience related to this topic, we invite you to share your story with others.
Share Your Story

Other Things to Consider

Ten Things Toddlers Wish They Could Tell You
It can do wonders for the frazzled parent to know what's going on in the mind of your little one.

TransitionsHaving a Baby, Preparing for Adolescence

Life PressuresWorking Moms, Stay-At-Home Moms, Time for Family

RelationshipsParents and Adult Children, Blended Families