Shaken Baby Syndrome and its Effects

Taking care of a small baby may at times be frustrating. On tougher days, your baby may cry endlessly, refuse to sleep or even eat. This can be distressing to a parent and can result in a baby being shaken out of frustration.

Why You Should Never Shake a Baby?

Shaking a baby out of frustration may result in a condition called Shaken Baby Syndrome. This is a serious condition that usually requires immediate medical attention.

What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

A baby’s brain is very delicate. Shaking a baby out of anger or frustration may cause the brain to bounce back and forth inside the skull resulting in brain bruising. Symptoms of SBS include:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Poor feeding
  • Unusual Breathing

Physical symptoms that a baby has been shaken include:

  • Seizures
  • Swelling or bruising in the head
  • Drainage of a clear fluid from nose 

Long Term Effects of Shaking a Baby

Babies who have encountered Shaken baby syndrome and have survived may have a few challenges when growing up. These include:

  • Seizures
  • Poor Eyesight
  • Poor Hearing
  • Learning disabilities
  • Blindness
  • Poor emotional and behavioural development

What to Do when You Discover that Your Baby Has Been Shaken

The immediate thing to do when you discover that your baby has been shaken is to rush to the hospital. While here, your baby will be examined and put through a brain scan to establish whether there is any damage to the brain. Depending on the results, your baby may be hospitalized and treatment will begin.

What Can Parents Do to Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome

In Kenya, government clinics have been advised to educate parents and caregivers concerning the risk of shaking a baby. They also advise parents on what to do when babies cry inconsolably. This advice often includes:

  • Staying calm, getting upset will only lead to more crying
  • A baby massage
  • Swaddling them
  • Singing softly 
  • Offering the breast

The key to these interventions is mostly the caregivers attitude towards the baby’s fussiness. A positive response will most of the time give good results.

In the event you get very frustrated and you get the impulse to shake your baby, the best thing to do is putting him or her down and take one step back. Breathe in and try to compose yourself.

Seeking help in the form of nannies or a partner might help you handle such situation better as you can step out of the house to compose yourself.

Shaken baby syndrome is a serious condition, and no matter what happens you should never shake your baby. 



Please note that development differs from one child to another. Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed March 2019 
Sources: babycenter, cc.bingj, medicinenet

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