April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and this year we’re partnering with the Arizona Department of Child Safety to help parents learn how to stay calm with their littles when their stress levels hit the max.
Let’s be honest, while unbelievably rewarding, having a baby at home changes A LOT. And when you mix that with sleep deprivation from late night feedings, balancing extra responsibilities, maintaining a full time job, homeschooling kids during a pandemic, etc. — stress and frustration can pile on quickly.
Sadly, when frustrated parents are holding a crying baby they run the risk of becoming too rough in trying to calm them down, causing a completely avoidable condition in their child, Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). This issue is so prevalent, that it affects up to 3,000 children across the nation.
The American Society for the Positive Care of Children (American SPCC) shares the following: “Babies, newborn to one year, are at greatest risk of injury from shaking. Shaking them with force can trigger a ‘whiplash’ effect that can lead to internal injuries — including bleeding in the brain or in the eyes. Often there are no obvious external physical signs, such as bruising or bleeding, to indicate an injury.”
These aren’t parents with a history of violence, and they don’t intend to hurt their child. SBS happens when stress isn’t kept under control. So, what can you do when you feel your temperature rising?
1. 10-minute talk: Call a calm voice of reason. Have a list of three people or places you can call when the stress of parenting is getting to you. Often, a 10-minute conversation with a person who really listens can make all the difference.
2. 10-foot rule: When you want to keep your baby in eyesight but need a break, place them in a safe place and stay 10 feet away until you’ve calmed down. Use this time to work on your breathing, think calm thoughts, sing a song, etc. — do what’s best for you to lower your stress level.
3. 10-minute break: If you need a moment alone, put the baby on their back in an empty crib (without loose blankets or stuffed animals), close the door and check on them in 10 minutes. Focus on something else for 10 minutes knowing your baby is in a safe place.
While these tips may sound simple, staying calm can be hard when you’re tired, frazzled and worried about your baby. Feeling frustrated, drained and a little desperate is normal. Using the advice above can help make all the difference in keeping your baby safe.
For additional support, go to dcs.az.gov/take10