Helping helpless babies...and new parents
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Thursday, 06 December 2012 10:44
New parents prepare for their bundle of joy by painting the nursery, picking out a baby name, and stocking up on diapers.
But many don't realize the ample supply of patience they will need when their bundle cries up to three hours a day - which is customary for babies between 6 weeks and 3 months old.
Frustration on the part of the parents is understood. But shaking a baby out of frustration is never acceptable, according to local children's services officials.
With Wood County seeing two children killed by shaking and a third left seriously injured this year, a concerted effort is being made to teach parents about Shaken Baby Syndrome before it's too late.
In order to reach parents early, Wood County Children's Services has teamed up with Wood County Hospital to give the new parents information from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, according to Sandi Carsey, supervisor of Children's Services, and Dave Wigent, director of Wood County Job and Family Services.
Parents are now given material to take home, and are required to watch a DVD at the hospital about the damage shaking can do to a baby. The information talks about how parents can handle a crying baby, and what they can do when they find themselves getting angry.
All the obstetrics nurses have been trained to teach parents how to deal with crying babies.
"People are responding to it positively," Carsey told the county commissioners Tuesday during a meeting about the local project against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Wood County is the second county in the state to use the DVD training. "Families are paying attention."
To reach more people, ads are being run in the Sentinel-Tribune, and 10 billboards will be posted in the county. Half of the billboards will focus on Shaken Baby Syndrome, and the other half on the importance of reporting child abuse and neglect, Carsey said.
The campaign is in response to recent "horrific cases" of child abuse involving shaking, she said.
"Because the children are so fragile at that age, we tend to have worse outcomes," Wigent added.
In many cases, the abuse occurs because parents or caregivers don't know how to comfort a crying baby, or how to calm themselves if their efforts fail.
"It is frustrating when an infant is crying and can't be consoled," Carsey said. "It's out of frustration that the parents react that way. They don't know what to do."
When parents feel that frustration come on, they need to put the baby in a safe place, like a crib, then "take a break yourself," Carsey said.
The county commissioners had questions about the project. Joel Kuhlman and Jim Carter asked how Shaken Baby Syndrome can be recognized.
"If it's a burn or a broken leg or arm, it's easily identifiable," Carter said.
Carsey said the injuries may be less obvious, but they can be seen in head scans, which can show bleeding on the brain.
Since babies aren't seen by school teachers or many others in the community, Carsey said it is up to those closest to families to report suspected abuse.
"People aren't going to shake their baby in Walmart, where people can see it," she said. "It's going to be in the middle of the night at home when the baby won't stop crying."
Both Wigent and Carsey stressed that Children's Services workers strive to help families - not remove children from homes.
"We want to help families be better parents to their children," Carsey said.
"So people should pay attention, if something doesn't seem right, give us a call," she said.
Commissioner Tim Brown said it would be better to error on the side of leveling unfounded charges, than ignore possible abuse.
"When in doubt, call. We'll sort out whether it's legitimate," he said. "Let us do our job."
Anyone wanting to contact Wood County Children's Services may call (419) 354-9669.
What to do when the crying won't stop
Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a frustrated caregiver loses control and violently shakes a baby. Shaking a baby can lead to blindness, seizures, learning and physical disabilities and even death.
From 6 weeks to 3 months old, the average baby cries about two to three hours in a 24-hour period.
Crying can mean a baby:
• Is hungry.
• Has pain from gas bubbles.
• Is too hot or cold.
• Needs to be held or burped.
• Is startled by strangers.
• Needs a diaper change.
• Needs to suck.
• Needs stimulation.
• Is overly tired.
• Has a fever or swollen gums.
• Has fingers or toes bent in tight clothing.
Try the following tips to comfort a crying baby:
• Give the baby a warm bath.
• Lay the baby tummy-down across your lap and gently pat his back.
• Run the vacuum cleaner, turn on music, the dryer or run water in the tub. Babies like consistent, rhythmic noise.
• Give the baby something new to look at or hold.
• Take the baby outside for a walk in the fresh air.
• Take the baby for a car ride.
• Gently walk, dance or rock with the baby.
• Wrap the baby in a soft, warm blanket.
• Rock the baby in a carriage.
• Carry the baby in a front carrier.
• Sing or talk in a quiet, sing-song way.
• Offer the baby a noisy toy.
• Massage the baby's body and limbs gently.
• Put the baby in a wind-up swing.
• Swaddle the baby tightly.
• Offer a pacifier.
• Increases around 2 months of age.
• Happens more in the evening.
• Lasts 30 to 40 minutes - or even longer.
• Sometimes continues no matter what you do.
• Comes and goes for no reason.
Tips to calm yourself:
• If you feel yourself getting angry, put the baby in a safe place, like a crib, and take a break. Check on the baby every 10 to 15 minutes.
• Do something to take a break from the sound.
• Listen to relaxing music.
• Take a hot bath or shower.
• Call a friend or relative.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 December 2012 10:48