Practical tips to prevent shaken baby syndrome was brought into this world by Wellington-based dads Scott Lancaster, Eric Mooij and Stefan Korn who recognised the need for a dedicated website for fathers. Based on their own experiences of struggling to find useful parenting related information specifically aimed at dads they created

"Shaken Baby Syndrome" is a term used to describe a set of injuries that result from shaking a baby. For examples in New Zealand around 20 babies are admitted to hospitals every year with injuries resulting from shaking a baby, many more are admitted with other forms of abuse. One in five of these babies die, many have other injuries including brain damage, paralysis, blindness, deafness, fits, learning and behaviour difficulties. More babies are admitted to hospital with a recognised head injury which is probably the resulting of shaking.

baby bentrup

Why is this happening?
Inconsolable crying is probably the most common trigger for shaking and physical abuse of infants. Crying is however the only way a baby can communicate during the first few months. Sometimes crying is a way of communicating that something is wrong, sometimes it's just that babies want a bit of attention or a cuddle. There's no question that crying can be very frustrating at times, but it's also important to remember that babies have no concept of "annoying" their parents (i.e. crying for no reason just to get on their parents nerves).

We've all been there and it's completely natural to feel frustrated. Sometimes it's just hard to soothe a crying baby and you've tried every trick in the book but the baby still keeps on crying. The key difference is what we do about this situation as parents.

What can we do to prevent "shaken baby syndrome"?
1. Recognise when you are getting frustrated and stay calm
2. Stay calm and check the following - does your baby:

  1. need some food

  2. need a nappy change

  3. perhaps feel too hot or too cold

  4. need burping

  5. feel tired perhaps


3. If you are unsure or think that perhaps your baby may be unwell contact a health professional
4. Some other things you can try

  1. massage your baby's back

  2. sing, hum or talk to your baby

  3. go outside and take your baby for a walk


If none of this works it may be good to actually take a break from the baby. Go outside or go to another room and do some exercise, shout out your frustration or do whatever helps to get rid off some frustration that has built up. After that you're most likely to be in a mucher better head space to go back and deal with your crying baby.

Whatever you do, never, ever shake a baby!

For more information about shaken baby syndrome check out or phone 0800 300 026 (in NZ).

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  • malandrob says
    put the baby down somewhere safe and warm, and go outside for a walk around the house or talk to a mate. Your baby is the most important thing in the world, and you are its daddy, let it grow up to know you as the worlds most awesome dad!
  • Onaphobia says
    Crying really seems like an evolutionary unsound practice. Many times I was at the end of my tether in the middle of the night trying to calm a screaming baby and really just wanting to jettison them into the forest, and I'd be thinking... "how the heck did we ever manage to evolve?" I guess there were enough people who hear a crying baby and want to do anything in their power to calm and soothe the child that we manage to get past age 1, but yes, many times I had to put her down, as she screamed like a banshee, and get myself a cup of tea. Or sit on the floor in a puddle of self-pity and misery and cry.
  • shiny says
    You're awesome rob, completely agree if only more could do the same.

    There's also a line of thinking that goes children 'need' to cry for increased development of the lungs, not saying ignore your child but remember it may also be beneficial too in small doses!
    • Onaphobia says
      I've not heard that Marked, and it kind of makes sense, so if it's true then it should possibly be publicized a little more so people don't stress the heck out trying to make their kid happy 100% of the time. I'm sure someone who makes these decisions (for everyone else) probably said 'no, cos then people would make their baby cry, or they would never try to pacify it' as if no one but them can take information and utilize it in a practical and helpful way.
      • shiny says
        I think a little information can be dangerous without context.

        Hopefully it's obvious to check for underlining problems with a child crying eg. nappy, food, injury but sometimes a little cry can be the child self settling into the next 45min of sleep cycle if they have been disturbed. Scientists are always finding new contexts for behavioural patterns, needs, wants and demands.
      • Onaphobia says
        Did you see this? A call for "compulsory monitoring of single parents to ensure the safety of their children" Come on! Seriously?

        I'd be interested to hear what the other single parents in this forum feel about this?
        • shiny says
          Does police on the roads stop speeding?

          The targeted monitoring of high risk families may work but i believe prevention and education should be looked at. Myself, as a first time parent was given the usual birth info at the antinatel evening classes as well as the latest breast is best guff, that was it.

          What was missing? The importance of setting up routine structures (for the sake of everyones sanity) and the basic physiology of a newborn. This maybe obvious to those who've cared for children but not to others. Coping strategies when tired and wornout, which you will be with a newbie would help too.

          The best thing i heard from a midwife was "If you don't look after yourself you can't look after your child"
          I'm sure there must be alot of other things, that people would like to have known.
          Like many fricken domes do they need on a body suit.....
        • I think it's ridiculous. What are they going to do, hide outside the window on a saturday night?

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