Shaken Baby Injury/Death a Warning to Community

Shaken Baby Injury/Death a Warning to Community

Dec 29, 2008

Infant Death a Warning for Community

Shaken Baby Syndrome & Perpetrator Warning Signs Should be Known

, WA –The Spokane Regional Health District is urging parents, caregivers, relatives and others to learn about shaken baby syndrome and the warning signs that may signal an abusive caregiver.

 "All too often we learn of an infant or toddler who is permanently injured or killed by the violent loss of control by the infant's caregiver," said Elaine Conley, Director of the Health District's Community and Family Service programs. "There are warning signs to help identify an abusive person, and a set of questions that every parent should ask potential caregivers before trusting their baby to the care of another. These steps could help save their child's life."

Infants and young children up to age five are susceptible to head trauma because their neck muscles are weak and can't always support the size of their heads. Sudden shaking motion causes the baby's fragile brain to slam against the skull wall – causing damage or death. Shaking is so dangerous that almost 25 percent of its victims die. Damage to a child's brain from shaking can affect many different parts of the child's body. And these effects can be devastating. They include: • Death • Blindness • Paralysis • Seizures • Mental retardation and • Other learning disabilities

 There is no one type of person who will shake a baby. Everyone from young babysitters to grandparents has done it. Frequently it's done to make a baby or young child stop crying. But it often only makes the crying worse, causing more vigorous shaking. Until brain damage or death occurs. Most people aren't aware of the level of injury shaking can cause. It's estimated that between 25 and 50 percent of parents and caregivers aren't aware of the serious dangers of shaking a baby. Knowing caregivers well and asking them some very important questions can help to ensure a safer environment for the children who need care.                                                        

What you need to know about all potential caregivers:

It can be embarrassing or difficult to ask a babysitter tough questions, but it is necessary to do so! Your baby is counting on you to keep him /her safe!

  • Always be sure your sitter has a location and/or number where you or another caring adult can be reached if they feel overwhelmed
  • Does the sitter have a history of violence, anger control problems, child abuse or animal abuse?
  • Do they have an alcohol or substance abuse habit?
  • Ask how she/he handles crying, especially long, hard crying.
  • Ask how much experience he/she has in caring for children the same age as your child.
  • When the babysitter is upset or frustrated, what does he/she do about it?
  • Do they know infant & child CPR & first aid?
  • Do they know how to recognize when your child is sick?
  • Ask how they would handle difficult situations like refusing to nap, or crying that won't stop.
  • If they've cared for other children, ask for references and check them out.
  • Do a police background check.
  • Watch to see if your child is handled gently and lovingly by your babysitter.
  • Watch to see if your child acts fearful, sick, injured or distressed after they've been with the babysitter.
  • Try to limit the number of babysitters to no more than 3 different people.
  • Ask yourself, "Do I really trust this person with my child?"

Dealing with an infant who is crying loudly or fussing for a long period of time is stressful. During times of stress, a caregiver or parent should use the following tips for caring for a crying baby.

Tips for caring for a crying baby

  • Put the baby in a safe, secure place, such as his/her crib or playpen
  • Take deep breaths and count to 10
  • Go to another room or area of the house
  • Ask someone else to watch the baby for you- a reliable parent, a neighbor or a friend
  • Gently rock or give the baby a bottle or pacifier
  • Take the baby out of the house for a ride in a stroller or a car
  • Be patient. If you find you can't calmly care for the baby, or have trouble controlling your anger, take a break. Let the baby cry it out
  • Remember, no matter how angry or impatient you feel – never shake a baby.
  • ASK FOR HELP! -There are many organizations available to help you.
  • Hire a caregiver to give you a break.
  • You are not alone! Contact one of the resources below for additional help and information.

For Immediate help Call:


The Spokane Regional Health District offers a wide variety of programs, services and information for individuals, families and children to promote and protect the community's health.

For more information, call the Spokane Regional Health District at (509) 324-1500.