Learn and share these tips for safe stress relief when caring for young children
TAMPA, FL. (July 31, 2017) – Shaking an infant or young child – even once – can cause serious or fatal injuries. Across Tampa Bay, more than a dozen babies and young children died in the past five years (2012-2016) after they were shaken violently or suffered other kinds of abusive head trauma at the hands of a caregiver.
The Prevent Needless Deaths campaign is urging parents and caregivers to educate themselves on the risks and prevention of abusive head trauma and take steps to keep children safe.
Most parents think this tragedy would never happen to their families, however, parents are most often responsible for causing injury or death from shaking a baby. Babysitters, grandparents and other caregivers can also be responsible, especially if they are not properly prepared to handle stressful situations, such as when a baby is crying and cannot easily be soothed.
In most cases of abusive head trauma, the parent or caregiver does not mean to harm the child but lacks the knowledge or skills to cope with a stressful situation.
“Preventing abusive head trauma starts with education and developing a plan for caregivers to follow when stressful situations arise,” said Kelley Parris, Executive Director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, one of the partner organizations in the Prevent Needless Deaths campaign. “While it may sound difficult or uncomfortable to discuss this topic with family members and others who may be caring for your child, it’s lot easier to talk about preventable child deaths before they happen, than after.”
The Prevent Needless Deaths campaign advises parents and caregivers to learn and share these tips to prevent abusive head trauma:
1. Understand that crying is normal. Crying is the way infants communicate. A baby may cry because they are hungry, need their diaper changed, are teething, are too hot or too cold, or simply because they are over-tired. Prepare for these situations and help anyone caring for your child understand what to check for first to address crying.
2. Attempt to soothe the child. If the common reasons above have been addressed but do not seem to be working, the next step may be a soothing action such as swaddling in a blanket, slowly rocking in a chair, humming or going for a walk. Parents should also provide the child’s caregiver with a recommendation of what typically works for them.
3. Remember it’s okay to take a time out. If a child is crying and the situation becomes frustrating, it’s okay to leave the child safely on their back in the crib and step out of the room to regroup. Stepping away reduces the chance of stress leading to a dangerous situation. If a break is necessary, check on the child every five few minutes to ensure the child is still safe.
4. Check the background of every caregiver. A key to preventing abusive head trauma is to check out the background and childcare skills of any caregiver.
5. Talk about it. Have frank conversations with caregivers, including spouses and immediate family members, about the dangers of head trauma. Watch for signs that a caregiver may not be prepared to care for a child, such as if they are easily angered or stressed, or seem inattentive. Don’t assume that a caregiver who loves the parent will feel the same way toward the child.
In addition to abusive head trauma, the Prevent Needless Deaths campaign aims to educate parents and caregivers on the other two top causes of preventable deaths among infants and children: unsafe sleep practices and drowning.
To learn more about preventing needless deaths among children, visit www.PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.
About Prevent Needless Deaths
Prevent Needless Deaths is an awareness campaign that aims to educate people in Tampa Bay on how to prevent needless deaths among children related to water safety, safe sleep practices and head trauma prevention. For more information, visit www.PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.