LUBBOCK, Texas– Following the death of a 3-month-old baby, a Lubbock therapist said Tuesday that there are ways to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Crying is the number one trigger for Shaken Baby Syndrome, according to the Shaken Baby Alliance, which is a national nonprofit.
“We know that babies can only communicate through crying, especially young infants,” said Tori Stephenson, a therapist with the Children’s Advocacy Center. “They are not able to tell us that they’re hungry, wet or sleepy.”
Stephenson added, “Sometimes, they just cry to cry.”
Over the past 10 fiscal years in Texas, 80% of all child abuse and neglect fatality cases occurred in children 3-years-old and younger, according to a report by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, this form of abuse occurs most often in babies less than 6 months old.
Babies are awake more often and may be going through sleep regressions at this age, Stephenson suggested.
“And by this time, parents are exhausted. We have to consider that a lot of new parents aren’t caring for themselves,” she included.
Parents may not sleep or eat as much after a baby is born. Combined with an infant who won’t stop crying, stress levels can be high.
Stephenson said it’s normal for new parents to feel stressed, but the way parents react to that stress is key — not only for the health and well-being of the child, but also for the parents.
“Take a step back, leave the room, create space between yourself and the child,” Stephenson said, acknowledging that it’s easier said than done.
“I know that’s really hard, because you want to fix the baby. We all have this desire to help, especially our tiny, helpless, crying children,” she explained.
Letting your baby cry when you’ve done all that you can do may feel impossible, but Stephenson said it’s necessary sometimes.
“The parent guilt is a very ugly monster. It is hard when you want to be the one to help the baby, but the best thing you can do sometimes is take a break, give yourself some grace and practice self-care.”
If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with the stressors that come with parenting, there are lots of resources available: