Adult Anger and The Shaken Baby Syndrome



In November, 1991, an eighteen year-old man shook a seven week-old infant whom he was baby-sitting because he wanted him to stop crying. The infant died the next day.


Jamie had been crying for hours. I felt like I could shake the life out of her. A moment later, I had (a quotation from a mother).



Normal babies will cry two to three hours per day. They cry if they are hungry, need to be changed, or want to be picked up. There are times when even the most calm and relaxed person will feel very stressed and feel like she is unable to cope with a crying child. If there are other stresses in the household, these feelings can be magnified. Sometimes – out of great frustration – a caregiver picks up a baby and will shake it. Because the baby’s head is heavier and larger in comparison to the rest of the body, and the neck muscles are not fully developed, the head moves rapidly and unnaturally in a back-and-forth motion. The brain hits the inside of the skull. This can cause permanent brain damage.



Guard well your baby’s precious head,

Shake, jerk and slap it never,

Lest you bruise his brain and twist his mind, or whiplash him dead forever (Dr. John Caffey).



Never Shake – Walk Away


A few tips you can use to help deal with a crying baby are:


·       Never shake a baby.


·       Learn how to soothe your baby. Seek the help of professionals if you are having difficulty with this.


·       Be patient – walk away; count to ten and take a deep breath.


·       Learn a relaxation technique.


·       Find a friend, especially one with children, to confide in – friends often have had similar experiences.


·       Take a break and have someone else look after the baby.


·       Learn about the child’s development.


·       Deal with issues of family violence.



Copyright 1995 Safety Health Publishing Inc.

Martin Lesperance is a fire fighter / paramedic and best selling author of the book “Kids for Keeps: Preventing Injuries to Children”. Martin speaks across North America on the topic of injury prevention. His talks are humorous, but still have a strong underlying safety message. For more information, call him at (403) 225 – 2011 or visit his website at