When you give birth to a child, there are programs in place to help alleviate the chance of child abuse. But what do you do when that child is adopted? You’re not necessarily at the hospital when that child is born, and so you don’t receive the same options that a biological mother would; new baby gift baskets, information on how to install an infant car seat, or information on other issues. One of those issues is Shaken Baby Syndrome.
An innovative program called Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee is working with Gateway Medical Center in Montgomery County to get information to new parents about Shaken Baby Syndrome. This information is being given so that when the “new” wears off, the parent will know what signs to look for in the baby and themselves that they need to step away and take a break.
A reality check about a crying baby and Shaken Baby Syndrome
Did you know that although a newborn doesn’t seem to cry a lot at birth, that crying does increase? At the 6 to 8 week old mark, newborns start to cry more. It has nothing to do with the parents, per se. Newborns are adjusting to their surroundings and learning how to communicate their needs, and crying does just that. They will cry more than ever (an estimated 2 & ½ to 5 hours, for a healthy baby) even when they are comforted. Once they reach 6 months old, they peak and the crying begins to decline after that. But what is the parent to do in the meantime?
It may help to know, that 65% of babies with Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) are shaken by males; whether the father, boyfriend, friend, etc. This is why it’s so important to educate the males in the baby and mother’s circle of friends and family, as to the damage that can be done by shaking a baby.
Lowering the chance of Shaken Baby Syndrome
With information on SBS being readily available to new parents, the instances of this type of abuse has decreased dramatically; 57% since the inception of the program! This gives hope to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of newborns and infants each year. As an adoptive parent, don’t be afraid to ask for more information on SBS. Here are some recommended steps to take to ensure that you have a plan in place:
- Breathe. Take some deep breaths to help reduce feelings of anger and tension
- The 10 foot rule. Place your baby in a safe place and walk 10 feet away until you have calmed down.
- Take a break. Gently Lay your baby down on his/ her back and take a break.
- Talk to someone. Call a friend or a relative who will listen and be caring. It can help to share your thoughts and feelings.
- Go for a walk with your baby. A simple walk around the block can help calm both you and your baby.
If you are at a breaking point or need someone to talk to, call The Parent Line: 1-800-CHILDREN.