Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) Prevention Model

Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention: Suggested Parent Education Protocol for Parents With Children Birth to 1 Year of Age

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Caring for a crying infant can be very frustrating for anyone. (Give “Babies Cry” card to parent)

  • Crying is normal and part of a baby’s normal development
  • Crying is a way for your baby to communicate
  • Average baby cries 2.5 hours of each 24-hour period
  • Most difficult time of caring for a baby, especially when the crying doesn’t stop
  • Babies don’t cry to make us angry or to irritate us

What to do about a crying infant

  • Check basic needs (hunger, burping, diaper change, pain, hot or cold, holding)
  • Check for illness (fever, pain, pulling at ears, gums red and swollen)
  • Colic is persistent, periodic, unexplained, inconsolable crying
  • Colic affects about 15-25% of babies
  • Colic is first noted at about 2 weeks. Peaks at about 6 weeks and may persist for 3-6 months
  • Managing colic includes keeping baby warm, provide motion (rock or carry), provide static or ‘white noise’ (vacuum, hair dryer, radio), offer pacifier/bottle or breast
  • Sometimes need to let the infant ‘cry it out’.  Notify family members if taking this approach, it can be frustrating for others

Stress and frustration

  • Reduce stress by walking, exercising, taking a bath, taking a nap, calling a friend
  • Identify a support person you can call for help.  Who is that person?
  • Ask for professional help when necessary. Asking for help is a sign of strength!

Shaken Baby Syndrome

  • Frustrations of a crying baby or toddler may cause an adult to shake the baby to try to stop the crying
  • Shaking can be a reaction to inconsolable crying
  • Because a baby’s head is heavy, the whiplash motion of shaking has led to blindness, brain damage, and death
  • Shaking is a violent act
  • Normal play does not cause the types of injuries seen in Shaken Baby Syndrome cases


  • Ask whoever cares for your baby if they have heard of Shaken Baby Syndrome
  • Tell them what you’ve learned about the relationships between infant crying, caregiver frustration and Shaken Baby Syndrome
  • Tell them that shaking an infant can cause blindness, brain damage and death
  • Give them a way to reach you, as well as an alternate caregiver, in case your baby becomes fussy and the caregiver is frustrated
  • Remind them you would rather they call for relief than have them upset with your baby